Injured 7s stars Ouma, Ombachi in race to be fit for Rio
Oscar Ouma leans on the rugby post wistfully watching the rest of the national sevens team go through their paces at the Kenya Rugby Union Grounds in Nairobi.
The burly forward is on the sidelines for a reason. He is on the road to recovery after undergoing surgery on his right knee in April, a procedure that almost quashed his Olympic dreams but as his teammates huff and puff on the pitch, he is almost compelled to throw caution to the wind and join the fray.
The 27 year-old knew all was not well at the Vancouver 7s when he hobbled off after Kenya lost to Russia in the Shield semi-finals and his worst fears were soon realised.
“I picked it (the injury) in Dubai. I was playing with it and I think after that tournament, we trained on a hard surface so it’s something that progressed during the series and I think the climax was in Vancouver,” he told Citizen Digital.
Running and lifting weights became a strain and he consulted a doctor whose prognosis recommended surgery on his right knee.
Ouma who missed the Olympic qualifiers in South Africa in December 2015 shuddered at the possibility of missing out on Rio.
“I was a bit skeptical about it I spoke to the doctor and he assured me 12 weeks out. He told me it wasn’t that major operation so they told me within 12 weeks I should start training,” he narrated.
Ouma went under the knife to repair his Mensicus, a common injury to the cartilage that stabilises and cushions the knee joint.
He missed the rest of the HSBC World Sevens Series recovering and within two months after the surgery, the Nakuru RFC forward was back on the pitch albeit on a lighter training regiment than his colleagues.
“For now he is doing a lot of cardio because he can’t do a lot of runs, we have been insisting on cardio for the rower, cycling. We will see how he improves in terms of fitness,” Lamech Bogonko, the Kenya Sevens team physiotherapist revealed.
Head of strength and conditioning, Geoffrey Kimani believes Ouma who made global headlines in January when he steamrolled New Zealand rugby star Sonny Bill Williams at the Wellington 7 could be fully fit in less than a month.
“Ouma starts doing some linear running this week. We are working now to get his posterior chain muscles ready and firing. The week after he starts on agility, in 3 weeks he should be able to do all out rugby training,” Kimani said.
Ouma’s teammate Dennis Ombachi also exacerbated a lingering ankle injury in the Canada round prompting surgery as well.
The Mwamba RFC utility back single-handedly sealed Kenya’s place at the Olympic games in Brazil shrugging off three Zimbabwean defenders to score the winning try in the Africa Qualifiers final in South Africa in December.
Injuries seem to be his Achilles’ heel when his performance is on the ascendancy.
“You know my history, it seems injuries love me and bad luck has been chasing me for a while but I come back stronger,” Ombachi mused.
He will travel to the United Kingdom this week to compete in the Sevens and the City invitational rugby tournament for Samurai 7s as he seeks to gain fitness.
The 25 year-old is expected to be part of Benjamin Ayimba’s 18-man provisional squad that will head to residential camp at Nandi Bears ahead of the Olympic games.
The area rekindles fond memories for Ombachi.
“Nandi bears, I grew up there I grew up opposite the club. I love it there. It’s high altitude its secluded and it will suit the team,” He revealed.
Shujaa and the Kenya Lionesses are the only team sports that have qualified for the Olympic games.
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