Former Blitbzok captain Kyle Brown has spoken about leading the team to a bronze medal in the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
Brown was looking back at the Blitzboks’ experience of the Rio Olympic Games with former teammate Seabelo Senatla on the four-year anniversary of their bronze-medal win over Japan on Tuesday.
The 2016 Games marked the first time that rugby sevens had been played at the Olympics, and the first time since 1924 of any played form of rugby at the Olympics.
The Blitzboks progressed to the semi-finals of the tournament after topping their group and claiming a comfortable 22-5 win over Australia in the quarter-finals.
However, in a tough semi-final against Great Britan the Blitzboks suffered a disappointing 7-5 loss and missed out on the chance to face off against rivals Fiji for a gold medal.
To their credit, Team South Africa managed to pull together and produced arguably their finest showing in the tournament to hammer Japan 54-14 and finish on the podium with a bronze medal.
‘What was most impressive about that game was the way that the guys were able to pull themselves together,’ Brown said. ‘It was such massive disappointment after that semi-final, losing 7-5 to Great Britain, it was one of the toughest matches. It looked like the aftermath of a battlefield when the guys came off the field. There were bodies lying all over the change room, heads dropped everywhere. That was one of the toughest moments of my career.
‘I asked myself how on earth I was going to get these guys up for that last game. I can’t do everything for everybody and credit to the players that were there, they lifted themselves up. They stepped on to that field for the bronze-medal match against Japan and, jeepers, did we play. They [Japan] felt that one.
‘To be honest, I can’t remember the exact message, but it was something along the lines of that we worked incredibly hard to get to this platform. This bronze medal that we are playing for is still a very special medal and it means a lot to our country. I don’t think we needed to say much more. For the guys wanted to prove to each other that they could play much better than they did in that Great Britain game and they wanted to end on an absolute bang, which they did. It was a pleasure to be out on that field when everything was just working.’
Given that he was 29 years old at the time, Brown had a feeling that this could be his only moment on an Olympic podium and fully embraced the opportunity to celebrate the team’s achievement.
‘I knew it was my one and only Olympics,’ Brown said. ‘There were a lot of younger guys who were lined up for that Olympics and then had a plan of going to Tokyo also. I knew that was my one and only shot and it really changes your perspective. I still have this vision of the podium shot, right at the end of the day, I think I am one of the few guys in the bronze-medal spot who has a massive smile on my face. All I was thinking to myself was that you are never going to stand on this podium again, ever. It doesn’t matter what you do, so you better enjoy this moment. It will always stay special to me. I am chuffed with myself for taking that moment and enjoying it and making it a positive moment.
‘You look at the Olympic village and there are around 25,000 athletes. Such a small, small percentage of them get a chance to compete for a medal. An even smaller percentage of that actually wins a medal. So it was a heck of a moment to be proud of. ‘
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