Blitzboks are chasing Olympic gold, says coach Powell

The Blitzboks will have to wait another year before they can run out again in front of their home crowd at the Cape Town Sevens. Picture: Gallo Images

With the rest of the 2020 campaign scratched due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Blitzboks have turned their focus towards the 2021 season.

After regrouping in Stellenbosch this week, coach Neil Powell says the Blitzboks have set their sights on next year’s Tokyo Olympics as their long-term goal.

Powell said the Tokyo Games, postponed until July next year, remained an important date in the team’s calendar as they looked to return to the podium after securing the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“We would have returned from the Olympics a few days ago if it had not been postponed, so it’s easy to remind ourselves that it’s unfinished business,” Powell said.

“We have again pencilled that in as part of the planning for the next season, as that is one of the few confirmed dates available,” he added, after the first two legs of the 2020/21 World Rugby Sevens Series were recently cancelled.

“One thing we have on our side for now is time, and we restarted this week with that in mind.”

Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi said the return of so many familiar faces was a boost to the whole squad.

The players were tested for Covid-19 on Tuesday, in line with a number of return-to-training protocols, while the team’s medical staff had also assessed the players’ physical and mental well-being.

The strength and conditioning element of training started on Wednesday.

“It is really good to see teammates again, although some only from a distance,” said Soyizwapi.

The Blitzboks were apparently working in groups of five, according to healthy and safety guidelines.

“We are adhering to the relevant guidelines and social distancing, and we all realise the importance of staying healthy in these opening weeks and making sure we do our bit with regards to the protocols,” Siyozwapi said.

“There is some time to go before we will play our first match, but just to be back with the group and to start training again is a wonderful opportunity for us to get the season going.”

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