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Kenya Lionesses skipper Philadelphia Olando offloads a pass during a training session at the RFUEA Grounds on March 28, 2019. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Rugby

We will not be pushovers in Tokyo Olympics, vows Lionesses skipper Olando

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 15 – The national women’s sevens team, Kenya Lionesses will be aiming to better their 2016 Rio Olympics performance when they head to the postponed Tokyo Games this year, Captain Philadelphia Olando said as the team resumed training on Friday.

The team that is a blend of youth and experience, had their 13th session at the RFUEA Grounds after taking Christmas break and they had to undergo a COVID-19 test and wait for results before taking part in training.

Olando, who was part of the team that was in the 2016 Rio Olympics where they were eliminate at the group stages without a win having lost to New Zealand, France and Spain, but the veteran has sent a warning to their competitors to expect a different oiled team in Tokyo.

“It has been quite challenging training under the COVID-19 protocols because we have to train with our masks on, sanitize the ball regularly but we are thankful because at least we are training now after being out for nine months. We are now a month and one week in training and we are getting somewhere since we are trying to regain the time lost,” Olando, who is the most experienced player in the team stated.

She added, “We are working on getting back to our fitness at par, get the power back and strength. This is the second time we are qualifying for Olympics though most of the players in the team were not there in 2016, they are very competitive. Heading to Tokyo we are not going to be pushovers, we are going as underdogs, but we will bring out our A game because now we know the terrain and the understood our game structure,” Olando vowed.

However, the skipper called on the government and National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) to give them ample preparations by organizing build up matches and friendlies for the team to gauge its fitness ahead of the Summer Games.

“Most teams that we will compete with have tournaments that they are playing in, we need fitness so as to be at par with them. If we can get friendly matches or tournaments, we will be more than ready to take on our competitors,” the Captain urged.

Head Coach Felix Oloo confirmed that the team is responding well to training and will be ready for the Olympics that is slated for July 23 to August 8.

“We were monitoring our players during the COVID-19 break. I had given them an individual training scheduled from the strength and conditioning to the speed and that really helped us a lot when we are now fully back in training. We are not badly off and we are not yet there but I believe in two weeks we will be where we want to be, its always a challenge being without a tournament or friendly to gauge our fitness but we are coming up with mechanisms and we will see if they can train with the Shujaa to get the strength,” Oloo said.

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