Commonwealth Games: Kenya's quest for historic gold

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Andrew Amonde and the Kenya Sevens team get a warm reception at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport when they return home with the Singapore Sevens trophy.

  • (IWN)When it comes to the Commonwealth Games, Kenya's record on the track speaks for itself.

    At Glasgow in 2014, golds were won at every distance from 800m to 10,000m and in the men's 3,000m steeplechase, only Kenyan athletes have claimed medals since 1994.
    Never, though, has the African nation won gold in a team event away from the track -- but that could be about to change.
     
    In Kenya's pool is four-time Commonwealth champion New Zealand, but that shouldn't phase Shujaa, who toppled the All Blacks en route to the Cup Final in Hong Kong.
    Two defeats to Fiji mean Kenya hasn't been able to match what remains the team's proudest achievement -- lifting the Singapore Sevens trophy in 2016, the nation's first and only Sevens World Series title to date.
    It's a moment Amonde, who captained the side that day, remembers fondly.
    "Winning that trophy was a mega boost for our squad," he explains.
    "We had put in a lot of sacrifice to get there over the years and having won the first one is something that really boosted our morale -- we saw that it's possible and it gave us that belief.
     
    A few decades ago, the Kenya Rugby Union took the decision to focus efforts on the seven-a-side game. In the 15-a-side format, Kenya was only at a stage to compete against other African nations; with sevens, they had the prospect of competing internationally.
    At the time, rivals laughed but over the years it's reaped rewards.
    Since then, the likes of Uganda and Zimbabwe have followed suit and focused their attentions on rugby's shortened format.
    "We took that decision and it has paid off," Kenya Rugby president Richard Omwela tells CNN. "We are now able to beat some of the big boys on the global leagues.
    "We've ended up playing, for example, New Zealand, who we would never dream of playing in fifteens."
    But despite Shujaa's impressive rise on the world circuit, challenges still remain. Results on the field belie the difference in resources between Kenya and some of its rivals.

Source : IWN Online Editor

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