Canada aiming to stay ahead in race for Olympic berth

By Machuki Sundaa

Canada’s women’s sevens team are aiming to strengthen their claim for a place in next year’s Tokyo Olympics when they compete in the Kitakyushu Sevens this weekend.

The Canadians are tied for third with Australia, with both teams on 46 points and two points behind second-placed United States. New Zealand lead the women’s HSBC World Sevens Series for women with a maximum 60 points from three tournaments.

Head coach John Tait was quoted in the Times Colonist as saying that his team will be hoping to earn enough points from Kitakyushu to stay in the top four.

“Getting Points and qualifying is always in the back of your mind in the Olympic qualification year,” Tait was quoted as saying. “Finishing in the top four was always going to be the goal this season.”

Canadian captain, Ghislaine Landry and her teammates will be grateful if they can go straight into the Olympic tournament by finishing in the top four rather than go through a potentially dangerous Americas and Caribbean regional qualifying process.

“The goal this season this season is to qualify for the Olympics and it’s hard not to think about it. But you keep it in the back of mind and go out and do the next thing you have to do,” Landry was quoted as saying.

Landry is the top try scorer in the world series with 106 tries and says her teammates are eager for action in the tournament after a lengthy break.

“It’s been a long mid-season break and we’re more than ready to go,” said Landry.

Returning to line-up for Canada after a long absence is veteran Karen Paquin. She was part of the team who won a bronze in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Coach Tait believes that Paquin’s inclusion will give the squad a much-needed boost of morale. He also said this was the hardest selection he has had to make since Rio because many deserved a place in the squad.

Said Tait: “We have 15 to 16 players [who deserved to go],”

For Kitakyshu, Canada are in Pool B with Spain, China and Australia.

Main Photo Credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos, World Rugby

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