Coach Wambua confident as Kenya Sevens departs for Paris Olympics

Ababu Namwamba

Cabinet Secretary for Sports Ababu Namwamba (in beige jacket) alongside Nock President Paul Tergat with Kenya Sevens Rugby players in Nairobi on July 8, 2024 before the team departed for France. 

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenya finished 11th at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and ninth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  • The rugby players form the first batch of Team Kenya athletes to leave for the Paris Games.

Kenya Sevens Rugby head coach Kelvin 'Bling' Wambua has said the national team is under to pressure to post positive results at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Wambua has expressed confidence in his team, saying the players have what it takes to produce good results in Paris.

Speaking on Monday evening in Nairobi moments before the team left for high performance training camp in Miramas, southern France, Wambua said his players are determined to perform well at the Olympics which will take place between July 26 and August 11.

“Pressure and nerves will always be there but we want to take them with hands and feet and see if we can get the best out of it,” Wambua said.

Wambua reckons that although his team will come up against tough opponents in the shape of Argentina, Samoa and Australia in the group stages, the players have set a target of reaching the knockout stage for the first time ever.

Kenya finished 11th at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and ninth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Wambua noted that there are no easy pools at the Olympics, adding that his team is as good as their last game.

In the last competitive match in June, Kenya beat Germany 33-15 in Madrid to return to the World Rugby Sevens Series.

“Argentina is strong by virtue of winning the world series last season but we have assessed them technically. We beat Samoa during the Madrid qualifier for the series. Australia have been up and down in the season but they know how to play at the Olympics,” Wambua said.

The coach also noted that the team has put in good work for the last one month with the players pushing each other for the best.

“It has been hard work on-and-off the pitch in terms of conditioning, game understanding and making sure we sharpen our skills," he said.

Wambua said his players’ focus is to reach the quarterfinals after which they will attempt to get into the medals bracket.

At the same time, Wambua said he has charged co-captains Vincent Onyala and Herman Humwa to guide the team in Paris.

“I want them to instill belief in the team and show them that it is just how we manage and handle ourselves; that our attitude when we step on the pitch is what will determine our fate,” he said.

Onyala echoed Wambua's sentiments, saying the team's primary goal on day one will be to top the pool and reach the quarters.

"But to be there we must be tight on our defence and attack. We believe in the process and we shall work for each other,” Onyala said.

At hand to see off the team was the Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, Creative Economy and Sports, Ababu Namwamba and the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) president Paul Tergat.

Tergat confirmed that the country will be represented by 70 athletes at the Paris Olympic Games starting July 26 to August 11 in the French capital. Kenya was represented by 85 athletes.

The rugby players form the first batch of Team Kenya athletes to leave for the Paris Games.

Close to 10,500 athletes representing 205 nations are expected in Paris where they will compete in 32 sporting disciplines featuring 329 events.

Kenya will be represented in six sports for the Olympics, namely, athletics, rugby sevens, judo, fencing, volleyball and swimming.