Rugby World Cup star Cheslin Kolbe targets Tokyo 2020



The South African pocket-rocket, who won bronze at Rio 2016, wants another crack at winning Olympic gold.

Watch out rugby sevens, Cheslin Kolbe wants back in.

Fresh from starring in South Africa’s Rugby World Cup-winning side in Japan (where he scored a try in the final against England), the speedster has already set his sights on winning another gold medal.

“This is my next goal – I hope to represent South Africa with the national team at Sevens at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020,” he told Midi Olympique.

Cheslin Kolbe’s unfinished business

Kolbe is currently considered one of the best fifteen-a-side players in the world.

As such, his intention to switch to sevens will come as a surprise to some, but not if you know his rugby history.

Unlike other fifteen-a-side rugby stars like New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams, who switched to rugby sevens after winning a Rugby World Cup, Kolbe is already a seasoned rugby sevens exponent.

The 26-year-old represented South Africa’s BlitzBokke from 2012-2017, helping them win bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympics, and the 2016-2017 World Rugby Sevens Series.

Clearly, Kolbe has unfinished business in the sport which first propelled him onto the international stage.

Cheslin Kolbe in action for South Africa's rugby sevens side
Cheslin Kolbe in action for South Africa’s rugby sevens sideCheslin Kolbe in action for South Africa’s rugby sevens side

The news that Kolbe wants to leave the fifteen-a-side game, in order to focus on Tokyo 2020 selection, will be well received by many in France.

In 2017, Kolbe signed a lucrative deal to play fifteen-a-side rugby for powerhouse club Stade Toulousain.

Over the next two years, the diminutive winger made a mockery of opposition defenses throughout the league with his dazzling footwork, as Les rouge et noir lifted the French championship.

Videos of his exploits quickly went viral, and played a large part in his being called-up to the Springboks‘ Rugby World Cup squad.

The fact that Kolbe is willing to turn his back on the higher potential earnings of fifteen-a-side rugby, in order to chase his Olympic dream, speaks volumes of his desire for the Olympic gold medal.

Keeping up with cousin Wayde van Nikerk

There aren’t many families in which Kolbe wouldn’t be the fastest runner. Yet it is true of is own.

His cousin is 400m World Record holder Wayde van Niekerk, and the Rio 2016 gold medallist can regularly be seen at Kolbe’s rugby matches.

Van Nikerk underwent ACL surgery in 2017, and it remains to be seen if he will be fit enough to defend his title at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

But if Kolbe is able to translate his fifteen-a-side exploits onto the sevens field in Japan, it may not be too long until there is another Olympic gold medal on the family mantle piece soon.