Pat Kay displays the trophy from the 2017 Singapore Sevens during a visit to the Cowichan Rugby Football Club later that spring. Kay and the Canadian men’s sevens team have qualified for the 2020 Olympics. (Citizen file)

Duncan’s Pat Kay and Canada bound for Tokyo Olympics

Island product helps make rugby history again

After six intense years with the Canadian men’s rugby sevens team, Duncan’s Pat Kay helped make history last weekend as Canada qualified for its first Olympic tournament.

Canada went undefeated through the Rugby Americas North Sevens tournament in the Cayman Islands last weekend to claim a berth in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I feel very thankful to be able make history yet again with this group of guys,” said Kay, who was also part of the team that captured Canada’s first-ever World Series win at the 2017 Singapore Sevens. “The men who play alongside me, as well as the support staff past and present, make moments like these even more special. We have gone through quite a lot over the past few years. Some high highs and extreme lows. This is definitely one of those highs that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

A graduate of Cowichan Secondary School who came up through the Cowichan Rugby Football Club, Kay played his first World Series tournament in October 2013, and has now represented Canada in 43 series stops. He’s hoping to hit the 50-tournament mark next season.

Canada defeated Barbados, Mexico and Bermuda in pool play, outscoring their opponents a combined 151-5. The Canadians trounced Guyana 47-5 in the quarterfinals before beating Bermuda again 55. Canada dominated the final against Jamaica as well, winning 40-5 to secure a ticket to Tokyo.

Kay scored tries in both games against Bermuda, and opened the scoring in the final. It felt good for him to return to action after missing a good chunk of the 2018-19 World Rugby Sevens Series.

“I was happy with how the tournament went for me,” he said. “The last few months have been mentally, physically and emotionally draining as I have been battling a bad ankle injury I received in February. Having missed the last four World Series stops — Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Paris — due to this injury, I wasn’t exactly in game shape. Lots of hard work in the gym and physio room put me in a good enough position to be selected for the qualifier tournament. As the tournament went on, I felt stronger and more comfortable with every game.”

Later this month, Canada will travel to the Pan American Games in Peru, which will be the last competition of the season. In September, the squad will be back training, followed by the World Series from December to June, building toward the Olympics next July and August.

“Our goal is to medal at the Olympics,” Kay said. “We have proved that it is possible for us.”

The Canadian women’s sevens team also has a berth in the 2020 Olympics, where they will look to build on their bronze medal from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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