Olympics-Australian rugby sevens star Dalton ruled out of Tokyo with broken cheekbone

July 1 (Reuters) - Australian Chloe Dalton’s hopes of defending the women’s rugby sevens Olympic gold medal were crushed after she said she will miss next month’s Tokyo Games due to a cheekbone fracture.

Dalton said she will undergo surgery on Thursday after she was injured during the Oceania sevens tournament last week, the final warm-up event before the Tokyo Games.

The 27-year-old was part of the Australia team which beat New Zealand 24-17 in the gold medal match of the 2016 Rio Games.

“Unfortunately, there won’t be enough time to recover safely in time for Tokyo,” Dalton said in an emotional Twitter post, with pictures of her in hospital.

“Writing these words down is absolutely devastating and makes it all feel so much more real. This past 18 months have been some of the most challenging in my life, and I’ve overcome so many mental and physical battles to get to this point.

“Sport can be so beautiful and so cruel at the same time.”

The rugby sevens event, which made its debut in 2016, will be held from July 26-31 at Tokyo Stadium.

The Tokyo Games were postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)