Tokyo Olympics: Black Ferns Sevens vanquish France for Games gold medal

The Black Ferns Sevens have finally avenged their heartbreaking 2016 Rio Olympic loss, beating France 26-12 for the gold medal at Tokyo.

Five years after losing the inaugural women's sevens final to Australia, the Kiwis exorcised their demons with a clinical display that gave their rivals no chance of another upset.

New Zealand ran in three first-half tries to set the French a massive challenge, just to get back in the contest. An early try after halftime gave France the sniff of a comeback, until Tyla Nathan-Wong put the result beyond doubt.

They were extended to the limit - and beyond - earlier in the day, when Fiji led 12-7 early in the second half and forced overtime with a late try, before Gayle Broughton finally put New Zealand into the championship game.

How much they had left in the tank seemed likely to decide the gold medal, with France eliminating Great Britain in impressive fashion in the other semi.

As it turned out, they had plenty.

The NZ women made a perfect start, when Broughton gathered a kick through, captain Sarah Hirini carved up the French defence and found Michaela Blyde cutting on an angle towards the posts to score.

France capitalised on a loose pass for Caroline Drouin to canter 50 metres for a try, but from the kickoff, the Ferns had their opponents on the back foot, putting Broughton across in the corner.

With time running out on the first half, Hirini forced a turnover in the tackle and Stacey Fluhler split the defence for a 19-5 advantage at the break.

France hit back through Anne-Celine Ciofani soon after the restart, bringing her team within a converted try, but the Black Ferns kept the game uptempo, drawing offside penalties on their slow-retreating markers, for Nathan-Wong run off Theresa Fitzpatrick to restore the lead.

As time ran out, the Fern threatened to extend their margin even further, but kept France camped in their own territory, unable to mount a counterattack.

The final siren brought an emotional release for a team that focused on this moment for five years.

"There is so much going through my mind," sobbed Hirini. "I'm so grateful to be part of the best in the world.

"Our team has been through a lot for five years and bring home a gold medal for New Zealand, I couldn't be more proud.

"We love each other - it's pretty special and this is the last time we will play together as a team."