In a perfect world, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be getting underway this week. But the Games have, of course, been postponed in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The players sat down with hosts of the All Blacks Podcast Jay Reeve and Rob Dunne to chat through the journey they have been on over the past few years and their steely focus on the rescheduled games.
For most athletes, an Olympic medal is a career highlight. For Black Ferns Sevens players, their silver medals serve as the driving force behind their relentless pursuit to be the best in the world.
“It’s tough,” said playmaker Kelly Brazier when talking about the 2016 Olympics.
“On the day, the Aussies were a better team. That is the thing that still gets me, knowing that we didn’t play as good as we could have. I’m a very competitive person and if I had gone out there and known our team had played our best and still lost, I would be able to take it, but we didn’t.
“It wasn’t until a week after when we were watching other sports it put things into perspective, we still won an Olympic medal,” said Brazier.
Williams had a similar realisation, having watched her brother injure his Achilles and miss most of the Games, it was a rather innocuous interaction in the Olympic Village that turned her mindset around.
“I was walking through the village with my silver medal and my doom and gloom face on like the world had just ended and a guy came up to me and asked why I had a sad face and I said, you know, won silver. He said it was his third games and he had no medal, and how he wished for a medal, that sort of thing puts things into perspective,” said Williams.
While the players are now proud of their accomplishment it helps to drive their efforts every day.
“There were big talks, uncomfortable conversations and looking at yourself and how you could have done better.
“The biggest test of culture is when you are losing. Everyone is all happy when you are winning, the true test is when you are losing because that’s when you have to have each other’s back the most. We’ve had a few big losses and we’ve pulled together on the other side and that’s the measure,” said Williams.
The Olympics are still front of mind, with Brazier saying it’s easy to stay focused with that tournament on the horizon, regardless of current uncertainties. Williams echoes that sentiment.
“The whole world is telling you it’s not going to happen but to get yourself out of bed in the morning you have to tell yourself it is. Because that period you take off because you think it isn’t happening will be the difference between you and other teams and players, so for us, we are going to Olympics 2021, it’s happening.”
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