Sir Chris delivers perfect teamwalk to Team GB's sevens stars

Sir Chris delivers perfect teamwalk to Team GB's sevens stars

09 August 2016 / 10:00

Great Britain's men’s sevens team will make their Olympic debut in Rio today and after picking the brains of Team GB’s most successful ever Olympian they now have a better idea of what to expect.

Sir Chris Hoy – who won six track cycling golds and one silver across four Olympic Games – handed out the jerseys on Monday to the squad, who will kick off their inaugural Olympic campaign in pool C against Kenya this afternoon.

Drawn in a tough group that also includes Japan and New Zealand – Simon Amor’s British squad will need to hit the ground running at the Deodoro Stadium if they are to go one better than the women's team, who finished in an agonising fourth on Monday.

And Ruaridh McConnochie and the squad relished the opportunity to pick Hoy’s brains before their grand entrance onto the Olympic stage.

“It was great to get him in to talk and to present the shirts,” said McConnochie.

“He is Team GB's most successful Olympian and I remember watching him at Athens, Beijing and London. He is a national inspiration for everyone in Great Britain so it was awesome to meet one of my Olympic heroes face to face and to have my shirt presented to me by him also.

“He told us try and forget that we are at the Olympics and just to focus on the fact it is just seven versus seven and something we have done many times before. That's what he did and how he achieved success.

“I always tend to get a little nervous before a tournament so now is no different than normal but there is real excitement also.”

Team GB’s clash with Kenya will set up three hectic days of competition as the sport makes its Olympic debut – although the XV-a-side version of the game was last held back in 1924.

And Mark Bennett, who has 16 Scotland caps in XVs, has history in his sights for Simon Amor’s 12-man squad as long as they keep their feet on the ground.

“It’s just excitement for me rather than nerves. It’s a huge opportunity for us to go out and try and do something special,” said the Glasgow Warrior. 

“That’s what sport it all about, going out and trying to perform and we are doing it on the biggest stage.

“But despite the all the excitement and everything – we need to remember we are here for the tournament – we can’t get carried away just yet. 

“We have got a job to do – to go out there and put on a show and hopefully light it up for Team GB.”

Bennett is one of two Scotsmen in Amor’s 12-man squad that includes eight Englishmen and two Welshmen.

Unlike the majority of other nations that have had years to prepare for the sport’s Olympic debut – Amor and Simon Middleton, who coaches the women’s side, have only been able to mould the squad since the end of the 2015/16 World Sevens Series.

England finished a comparatively disappointing eighth in the last series while Scotland were tenth – after winning May’s London finale – and Wales were 12th.

But Bennett is hoping that their squad can be greater than the sum of their parts.

“The last couple of months have been tough, both physically and mentally. It’s been challenging coming together with guys you don’t really know,” he added.

“But we have come together – it’s a great group of guys and that has made it easier. We all want to go out and push ourselves and at the same time push someone else.

“The competition has been good but enjoyable.”

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