In a dramatic turn of events, Hong Kong’s men’s rugby sevens team experienced a heart-wrenching defeat in the Asia qualifiers in Osaka, narrowly missing out on securing a spot in next year’s Olympic Games in Paris. The team, which had shown remarkable tenacity throughout the tournament, faced a bitter 21-14 loss to Japan in a closely contested final. The defeat was particularly stinging as Hong Kong was leading 14-7 until the final minute of the game. This loss means the team must now face the challenge of the international repechage, marking their third attempt after previous unsuccessful bids.
On a brighter note, Hong Kong’s women’s rugby sevens team secured a triumphant 12-0 victory against Thailand, keeping their Olympic dreams alive. The win, characterized by strong performances from Natasha Olson-Thorne and Chong Ka-yan, was a testament to the team’s resilience and determination. Chong and Stephanie Chan were instrumental in their team’s success, scoring crucial tries and demonstrating both offensive prowess and defensive skill.
The women’s team’s journey to the final was marked by a mix of challenges and victories. After a tough 33-5 defeat by Japan in the semi-finals, they bounced back strongly against Thailand. Olson-Thorne’s leadership and the team’s collective effort were key factors in turning the tide in their favor. Their victory over Thailand not only highlighted their technical and tactical growth but also underscored their increasing mental strength and consistency.
Meanwhile, Japan’s women’s team clinched a double victory at home, defeating China 21-14 in the final. This outcome ensures that both Japan and China, alongside Hong Kong, will advance to the repechage, keeping their Olympic aspirations alive.
For Hong Kong’s men’s team, the path to the final was fraught with challenges, including a hard-fought victory over China. Their semi-final match against Japan was a rematch of the thrilling encounter at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, where Hong Kong had emerged victorious in a nail-biting finish. Max Denmark’s standout performance, with two crucial tries, was pivotal in securing the 19-12 win against China.
The Hong Kong teams’ journey in the Asia qualifiers has been a rollercoaster of emotions, with moments of triumph and despair. As they prepare for the next stages of Olympic qualification, their resilience and determination will be crucial in their quest for success on the international stage.