New Zealand ensured there was no repeat of their Rio 2016 heartbreak as they beat France 26-12 to win the women’s Olympic sevens gold medal at Tokyo Stadium.
Having lost the gold medal match to Australia five years ago, the Black Ferns Sevens had spoken about their desire to go one better in Tokyo, and captain Sarah Hirini helped give them the ideal start as she offloaded to Michaela Blyde to score.
Gayle Broughton produced a stunning finish in the left corner before Stacey Fluhler went over in the final minute of the first half to give New Zealand a 19-5 lead at the break.
Anne-Cécile Ciofani scored her seventh try of the tournament to draw France within seven points early in the second half, but Tyla Nathan-Wong went over to make sure of the gold medal.
Despite defeat, France can be proud of their effort in winning the silver medal at Tokyo Stadium, having only qualified for the Games through the World Rugby Sevens Repechage last month.
New Zealand had booked their place in the gold medal match with an extraordinary 22-17 defeat of Fiji after sudden-death extra-time, Broughton touching down to win one of the all-time great sevens matches.
France, meanwhile, were grateful to a Ciofani brace as they overcame Great Britain 26-19 in the second medal semi-final.
Fiji recovered from that disappointment to win a first women’s Olympic medal, and only their country’s third ever, as they beat Great Britain 21-12 in the bronze medal match.
Great Britain dominated possession in the first half but found themselves 14-0 down as Alowesi Nakoci scored two stunning tries.
Megan Jones went over to give Team GB hope, but Reapi Ulunisau scored her eighth try of the tournament to give Fijiana what proved an unassailable lead. Jones again touched down in the closing stages, but it was nothing more than consolation.
Australia fifth, China seventh
Australia gained a modicum of revenge for their pool defeat to the USA, as they beat the Americans 17-7 in the fifth-place play-off on Saturday.
Faith Nathan and Madison Ashby gave Australia reward for their dominance of possession in the first seven minutes as they went over at the end of the half to give Australia a 10-0 lead at the break.
The Rio 2016 gold medallists had blown a two-score lead when the teams met in Pool C and their nerves were tested when Kristi Kirshe touched down to help reduce the deficit to just three points.
But, Australia made sure of fifth place with around 90 seconds left as Demi Hayes finished off a fine team move under the posts.
Australia had booked their place in the fifth place play-off with a 35-7 win against the Russian Olympic Committee team (ROC), while the USA had seen off China 33-14.
In Saturday’s second session, China came from 10-0 down to beat the ROC 22-10 and finish their debut Olympic sevens campaign in seventh.
ROC captain Alena Tiron and Kristina Seredina crossed in the opening five minutes to hand their side the perfect start, but the momentum swung China’s way when Marina Kukina was shown a yellow card.
Wang Wanyu and captain Yang Min touched down with the ROC down to six players, before Xu Xiaoyan and Chen Keyi — with Daria Shestakova in the sin-bin — put the seal on victory late on.
Canada wrap up ninth, Brazil 11th
Farella crossed the whitewash in each half, the second coming while Canada were down to six players, to take her Olympic try tally to eight and help her side see off a spirited Lionesses display.
The hosts led 7-0 and 12-7, but Silva’s try edged Brazil in front on the stroke of half-time, and the World Rugby Unstoppable then produced a telling turnover late on to start an attack that ended with Marina Fioravanti touching down.