Perry Baker suffers broken leg to put Olympic dream in doubt

Perry Baker, twice voted World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, faces a race against time to help the USA bid for gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games in July after breaking his leg playing in the first international tournament to be staged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baker suffered the leg break in Madrid at the weekend where the USA are competing in a six team tournament backed by World Rugby and is currently flying back to Denver for imaging on the injury.

If the scans reveal just a broken tibia then Mike Friday, the USA sevens head coach, believes Baker has a chance of returning in time for the Olympic Games, however, if there is also ankle damage then the recovery period could be longer.

Friday said: “Perry suffered a lower leg fracture when his leg got caught under him when he was tackled. Perry is on a flight back to the US and will have scans and imaging taken of the leg in Denver to determine the full extent of the injury. He is scheduled to have surgery on Thursday and we are all keeping our fingers crossed that the scan confirms it is just a break and that, hopefully, he will have enough time to be considered for the Olympics.”

Baker and the rest of the USA sevens squad had to undergo rigorous testing to allow them to compete in Madrid which stages a second competition this weekend. All teams underwent testing and quarantine before arrival and these continue during their stay in the country. Contact tracing, daily monitoring and regular symptom checks are also at the sevens being hosted by the Federación Española de Rugby (FER) and supported by World Rugby as part of a US$4 million investment into Olympic qualified unions’ sevens programmes.

Alongside the USA are Portugal, Spain, Kenya, Argentina and France but missing are the Blitzboks, who were targeting Madrid but are unable to compete due to a ban on travel to Spain from South Africa.

The USA Men’s Sevens squad reassembled in January following a rigorous entry testing and quarantine process along with stringent protocols from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.