Sevens heaven for Team GB hopefuls
31 July 2019 / 13:57
Dreams will come true and memories will be made in rugby sevens once again with Team GB already qualifying men's and women's teams for Tokyo 2020.
Four years ago in Rio, sevens made its Olympic bow as Team GB’s men’s team took silver and the women’s side agonisingly missed out on a medal.
And for Olympics-obsessed Ellie Kildunne, in her first year on the sevens circuit, securing qualification in Kazan earlier this month saw her realise a lifelong ambition.
“This is my first year in the 7s, I spent Rio watching it on the TV in my living room as a 16-year-old,” she said.
“I can still remember it, and seeing the girls go out there and put our sport on such a massive stage as the Olympics.
“That was very cool to watch and lit a spark in me, that has burned throughout the last few years and now it becoming more likely that I have an opportunity, touch wood, likely next year.
“Jess Ennis will always be my Olympic hero, I can remember doing an English assignment at school all about her. I think I wrote about 6000 words on her!
“I have had a lot of conversations with girls throughout the year about Rio, and I must have watched their kit launch home video about 30 times. Each of them have said how amazing it is.
“The girls were in the lift with Usain Bolt and other amazing big names, they have said it is an amazing experience they will never forget.
“A tournament that will stick with them for the rest of their lives, making history and we want to continue to do that.”
Japan already holds special memories for Tom Mitchell – ones the sevens star hopes he can replicate next year on the biggest stage of all.
It was back in 2015 – when Tokyo was still on the World Sevens Series tour – that England’s men claimed victory there, downing South Africa in the final for Mitchell’s first-ever tournament win.
There has been plenty more success for Mitchell since then, including an Olympic silver medal at Rio 2016 and Commonwealth bronze on the Gold Coast two years later.
But next year attention returns to Tokyo and the 2020 Olympics, after Mitchell and England qualified England’s place earlier this month at the European repechage event in Colomiers.
“Japan used to be on the world series, the last time it was there we won it back in 2015,” he said.
“That was the first tournament I ever won in my sevens career which is a nice memory for me!
“One year to go is kind of the first point that we can realise that this is really happening next year.
“The first part of the realisation was after we gained that qualification on behalf of Team GB, and now we have got one year to go, it starts to feel that little bit more real.
“Of course there is a lot going on between now and then, but it is nice to have that moment of looking ahead and thinking ‘what if?’ and just enjoying the excitement of an amazing competition.”
(Only) One Year to Go. Follow the journey to Tokyo 2020 at TeamGB.com and @TeamGB