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Women’s team leave Gold Coast with heads held high

Keith McGhie in Gold Coast @peoplesport11

Philadelphia Olando reckons Kenya’s improvement throughout the inaugural Commonwealth Games women’s sevens competition mirrors the rise of the sport in her homeland.

The Lionesses captain led her terrier-like side in a heavy defeat to New Zealand, a much more encouraging loss to Canada and an inspiring 19-10 victory over Continental rivals South Africa during Saturday’s qualifying pool.

Having missed a chance to contest the medals Kenya began yesterday by beating Wales 14-12 through a late converted try from Celestine Masindi, so earning the right to face Fiji for fifth place.

The Pacific Islanders prevailed 40-5 but Olanda enthused: “We have grown as a team through the tournament. We started on a low note with going down 45-0 to New Zealand, did better in losing 24-12 to Canada so we went into the final group match saying “we are going to do this” and beat South Africa.”

She added: “When South Africa began to come back and against Wales, we believed in ourselves and came through. We are from a small rugby playing country and don’t play many big matches so playing in a big stadium in front of a big crowd is an honour for us.”

“Some of those who started the women’s team have retired and we are now a mix of old and new. We look at where the men’s team have come from to where they are now and are inspired by them.

They come along and talk to us and encourage us and tell us where they were and where they are now,” she said. The men, so impressive in reaching World Series finals at the Vancouver and Hong Kong Sevens recently, finished eighth.

Shujaa lost 40-7 to the Kiwis, having earlier come from behind to beat Canada 26-10 and then accounted for minnows Zambia 47-0 But they were then beaten by Australia 33-5 and then by Wales in the ranking matching.

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