Michaela Blyde reveals secrets behind her personal success in Tokyo

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Motivated by her experience as a travelling reserve to the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, where Sevens appeared for the first time on the Olympic schedule, Blyde said she spent five years visualising becoming a gold medalist.

 

And in the months leading to Tokyo, her daily meditation included seeing herself lining up in the tunnel before the final.

 

"The team we were up against were just grey figures because going into a final you've got no idea who you're going to come up against," she told world.rugby.

 

"You've got to beat the best to obviously make the final. And, quite frankly, I really didn't care who we were up against as long as we were in the final."

 

Blyde said it was a by-product of being in the Olympic environment and a high-performance athlete that she needed to prepare as she had.

 

“I was just so confident, so ready, and extremely calm going into that final. Not because of who we were up against, but simply because we were confident in ourselves.”

Michaela Blyde

 

It took her only 40 seconds in the final to put the Black Ferns' collective dream in motion as she took a pass from captain Sarah Hirini to run in a try en route to their 26-12 win over France.

 

"I look back now and it's still quite a numb, blank feeling, the fact that we won. I think the initial emotion for all of us was obviously tears of joy, but for me it was relief," she said.

 

"The fact that we've had this goal for so long and we finally achieved it, it was just like, 'oh, my gosh, yes, we can relax now, we finally did it'.

 

 

"Receiving the gold medal from Sarah and being surrounded by my teammates and singing the national anthem was just such a proud moment…makes you feel extremely proud to be a New Zealander," she said.

 

Blyde said she was in awe of her captain and what she achieved after losing her mother in the lead-up to the Games. The players had now known if Hirini would return to the side.

 

"I couldn't imagine what she was going through, I really can't. So, the fact that she was able to do what she needed to do, to focus on her wellbeing, to then come back into our environment, play a couple [of] tournaments and then be away from her family for two months, it takes an incredibly strong person to be able to do that.

 

"It's crazy to think that she did come back into our environment and play the best rugby that I reckon she's played in a very, very long time and still be the captain that we needed her to be at the Olympic Games," she said.

 

While thankful for the support of families and friends, Blyde said quarantine had meant the players were not able to thank them until two weeks after they returned, and she had looked forward to doing that.

 

She explained that the visualisation techniques she used had not been new ahead of the Olympics and had been part of her approach since 2016 when she was without a contract for the following season. Ten tries in six games at the World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in Dubai had done the trick and helped her win the World Sevens player of the year awards in 2017 and 2018.

 

"I visualised myself all the time, getting the ball and running around people, chasing people down, scoring tries. And, once I continue to visualise that, then it eventually becomes reality."

 

The confidence she gained in herself after Dubai showed her she could be the player she had wanted to be.

 

"My confidence went up, my time on the field went up, and I guess my maturity and experience as a rugby player grew as well," she said.

 

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