NAIROBI, Kenya, July 21- A confident Benjamin Ayimba is optimistic Kenya will win gold when Rugby Sevens makes its maiden appearance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Despite being in a tough group that has multiple world champions New Zealand, Great Britain and Japan, the national team head coach believes the squad is in the right frame physically and mentally to challenge for the top most medal in the Olympics.
“We are going for the gold. We said over the last eight months that this is something we are looking to do. Like I said when I came back, the series was going to be our training ground for the Olympics. We picked at the right time going into the end of the season and we hope to go to Rio with the same momentum,” Ayimba told Capital Sport.
The team has pitched camp at the Nandi Bears high altitude camp in the North Rift over the last two weeks and the coach says they have worked on polishing up their weaknesses, anticipating a tough challenge in Rio.
“The training has been good. It is just about bringing the team together and building cohesion, reminding ourselves of how we want to play at the Olympics. In the World Series, everyone is equal, it is just how much your players gel and can relate to the game that makes a difference and that also informed how the team was picked for Rio,” Ayimba stated.
The tactician is aware of the tough task ahead as they aim to get out of the tricky Group C and he has called on his charges not to down play any team.
Kenya has had mixed fortunes against New Zealand but has proved to be one of the sides able to take down the All Blacks by their horns, but a tougher challenge is expected against Great Britain which will compose of top players from England, Scotland and Wales as well as Japan who beat them in the series in the just concluded season.
“It is a tough group and we’ve got to be very clinical to stop it and go to the next stage then see what’s in store for us,” Ayimba offered.
His sentiments were shared by deputy captain Collins Injera, who heads to Rio as one of the players to watch after breaking Argentinean Santiago Gomez Cora’s all time try score record in the just concluded season.
“It is a tricky group. We know what to expect since we have played all of them before. Japan managed to beat us this season and is a difficult side for us. We want to focus on a game at a time and make sure we execute our plays well and minimize on the mistakes. I am sure we shall pull through,” the play maker told asserted.
He believes the team’s performance this season will spur them to perform well in Rio, adding it has boosted their confidence and focus.
Kenya managed to finish the season seventh and picked up 98 points, the second highest ever points haul in a season.
The team also managed to win a series Main Cup for the first time after triumphing in Singapore.
“The performance this season was a big boost for our preparations. We want to win medal at Rio and getting the cup for first time more so in Singapore which has almost the same weather like Rio is something that gives us confidence,” Injera said.
The team leaves for the Brazilian capital on Sunday and will have their first play against Great Britain on August 9.