By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE missed out on qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after finishing a disappointing fourth out of 12 participating nations in the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Affectionately known as the Cheetahs, the Zimbabwe side needed to win the continental competition to win the sole automatic ticket to the Olympics but were knocked out of contention following a 35-loss against the eventual tournament winners Kenya in the semi-finals.
The Cheetahs had an opportunity to have another shot at qualification for the Olympics via the continental playoffs but missed out to Uganda, who won the third place playoff-match 24-12.
The loss against Uganda was painful for the hosts after they had outclassed the same opponents a day earlier in the pool stages of the competition.
The biggest winners however were the Kenyans as they qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after beating South Africa 17-12 in the final of the competition.
Kenya trailed 12-7 at the break after conceding tries from Selvyn Davids and Christie Grobbelaar. Speedster Patrick Odongo had given Kenya the lead with a converted try. He leveled the game at 12-12 before John Okoth scored the winning try.
South Africa have dropped to the Olympic Repechage where they will vie for the 12th and final slot for Paris 2024 Olympics.
Dethroned African champions, Uganda, who are under Kenyan coach Tolbert Onyango, are also in the Repechage following their win against hosts Zimbabwe.
South Africa and Uganda will join the second and third-placed teams from Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America and South America in the final qualification tournament set for June 2024 for the 12th and final slot to the Olympics.
Kenya, who competed at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, and Uganda will also vie for a place in 2024/25 World Rugby Sevens Series at Challenger Series in 2024.