A four-year journey came to an historic conclusion this afternoon (Aug. 8) when Williams Lake’s Kayla Moleschi and her Canadian teammates became the first to capture an Olympic medal in the sport.
Canada thumped Great Britain 33-10 in the bronze medal match in sevens rugby’s debut at the Olympic Summer Games in Rio.
Moments after the match, Kayla’s mom, Andrea Moleschi — who was at Deodoro Stadium in Brazil with Kayla’s dad, brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law — couldn’t have been more proud.
“Oh my God. I am totally still shaking and crying,” Andrea told the Tribune. “I just want to go see my girl.”
Moleschi, the lone B.C.-born player on the roster, and Canada put together a masterful performance against Great Britain, avenging a 22-0 defeat in round-robin play on Sunday.
Quebec City’s Karen Paquin scored a try and Ghislaine Landry of Toronto booted the conversion to put Canada up 7-0 three minutes into the contest.
Shortly after a Great Britain try made it 7-5, Landry burst through the opposition’s defence for a try and she kicked the conversion to give Canada a 14-5 lead.
A deliberate knock-on and a yellow card left Great Britain a player short and Canada took advantage to close out the half when Bianca Farella of Montreal, Que. and Kayla — with a dish to Bolton, Ont.’s Kelly Russell — sent Canada into the break with a commanding 26-5 lead.
Great Britain’s struggles worsened in the second half, while Canada continued to get stronger, stuffing any offensive attacks their opponents attempted.
After British captain Jasmine Joyce brought her squad back to a 26-10 deficit, Canada added insurance when Landry marched down the pitch for a try and a conversion to score her 18th point of the match to seal the 33-10 victory.
Canada was the No. 3 ranked team coming into the tournament behind first-ranked Australia and second-ranked New Zealand, who squared off for the gold medal following the match.
There, Australia edged New Zealand 24-17 to win the Olympic gold.
Kayla joined Canada’s Women’s Rugby Sevens team in 2012 and has been a fixture on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series since.
The Columneetza secondary graduate stays with the team at its training facility in Langford, but calls Williams Lake her favourite place on Earth.