By Nick Gasparro – August 23, 2023
Chula Vista, CA – The Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center would like to congratulate the USA Men’s Rugby Sevens team on qualifying to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Their journey to this remarkable achievement culminated in an extraordinary performance at the RAN Sevens Qualifier in Langford, British Columbia, where they emerged triumphant with an unblemished 4-0 record against North American opponents.
The Paris 2024 qualification marks a significant milestone for this exceptional group of athletes. This is not their first time seizing victory through the regional qualifier; a reminiscent gold medal win in 2015 earned them a place in the Rio games. Under the guidance of the visionary coach Mike Friday, the team is now setting its sights on the revamped HSBC SVNS series, slated to commence this December in Dubai.
The journey to Paris has not been without its challenges, but the team demonstrated their prowess right from the outset at the Starlight Stadium. With a combined tally of 102 points across 16 tries against Bermuda and Mexico, their dominance was undeniable. Airtight defense ensured their opponents scored zero points, showcasing the mettle of a top 10 contender on the global rugby stage.
As the competition intensified, the USA Men’s Sevens remained in control throughout pool play, securing a well-deserved quarterfinal bye. Ben Pinkelman’s return to the squad was marked by an impactful try, while Malacchi Esdale and Lucas Lacamp showcased their scoring prowess with four tries each, leaving a trail of excellence on the field.
The semifinals bore witness to the team’s third consecutive shutout, this time against Jamaica. Their masterful command of the breakdown continued to shine, even though some areas warranted minor adjustments. A penalty temporarily marred their performance, but their eyes remained fixed on the ultimate prize: a coveted place in the final match.
The final was nothing short of a nerve-wracking showdown, a winner-takes-all spectacle that had the USA pitted against Canada for the single Olympic qualification slot. Despite being favorites, the Team USA faced a fierce Canadian momentum buoyed by a passionate home crowd. The encounter unfolded over a gritty 14 minutes, marked by relentless battles for possession. While Canada briefly took the lead, Team USA answered with unwavering determination. Perry Baker’s trademark speed and Carlin Williams’ unyielding resolve secured the victory, relegating Canada’s hopes and confirming the USA’s Olympic berth.
With this monumental victory etched into history, the USA Men’s Sevens will return to their training grounds at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center As they reset both physically and mentally after an intense 10-week journey to the qualifier, their focus now pivots towards an ambitious endeavor – the HSBC SVNS series. This international tour promises to not only elevate their game but also serve as a steppingstone to refine their skills to Olympic perfection ahead of the Paris 2024 Games.
Congratulations to the USA Men’s Sevens team on this extraordinary achievement. The Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center stands proud, celebrating your resilience, dedication, and the indomitable spirit you bring to the global rugby arena. As the journey continues, know that you carry the hopes and dreams of a nation on your shoulders, and we eagerly anticipate your spectacular performance on the grand stage of the Paris 2024 Olympics.