Japan’s stunning run to the semi-finals of the inaugural Olympic Sevens has captivated the host nation of the next Games and surprised even the players, says leading try scorer Lomano Lemeki.
Not content with upsetting Sevens powerhouse New Zealand in the pool stage on Tuesday, the 10th-ranked Japanese knocked off World Series regulars Kenya and snatched a quarterfinal victory over France with a last-gasp try on Wednesday.
Auckland-born Lemeki explains: “Honestly? I thought we’d come here, win a few games, give it a good go. I thought we’d be lucky to make the quarters let alone the semis. So I dunno what’s happened here.”
Pressed about what in the approach of the team was making the difference in Rio, the 27-year-old says he thought the lack of expectation was helping.
He adds: “We take it as it comes, we’re feeling really good. We’re sort of playing with [the attitude] that if we lose, we lose, if we win, we win.
“A lot of boys are not playing Sevens after this tournament, so just having fun with your mates, I guess.”
Lemeki said the players had been instructed to turn off their phones because they were getting so many messages of support.