Australian Sevens program attend AOC's ignite session

by staff

Players and staff from the Australian Sevens program gathered at Sydney Olympic Park last week as part of the Australian Olympic's Committee to build a supportive framework around the 2016 Australian Olympic Team.

Stage one of this process is IGNITE, symbolising the lighting of the cauldron or the start of the Olympic Ganes. For Rugby Sevens, this truly is the start of a journey into the unknown with the sport set to make its debut at the Rio Olympic Games in a little under two years.

The IGNITE sessions, which will be rolled out across the country, game the Australian Sevens program the opportunity to learn from Olympians of the past, gain an understanding of the Australian Olympic Team's objectives, meet the Rio Team Leadership group as well as learn more about the Rio environment. It was also the perfect chance for the AOC to re-affirm the Team's ASPIRE values - ASPIRE being an acronym for Attitude, Sportsmanship, Pride, Individual Responsibility, Respect and Express Yourself.

Highlight of the night was a talk from legendary swimming coach Laurie Lawrence that left players and staff on the edge of their seats and feeling truly inspired.

Director of Rugby Sevens Geraint John said: "It was a fantastic evening. Being a new sport to the Olympic program we were given a special welcome. It was an incredible opportunity to spend time with athletes that have won medals at past Olympic Games.

"The key message was that we were not just representing Rugby. We were representing Australia. We are part of a team bigger than the Australian Sevens team. We were shown videos that highlighted Australia's history at the Olympics which really hammered home what it will mean to represent the country if we are fortunate enough to qualify for Rio 2016."

Qantas Australian Women's Sevens player Nikki Etheridge added: "The IGNITE event brought home the reality of it all. It really motivated us all to train even harder as we attempt to secure qualification to the Games in Rio.

"Laurie Lawrence was fantastic - you just feel the amount of pride he has for the Australian Olympic Team. The enthusiasm he brings just brings everyone out of their shell and takes them out of their comfort zones. You can't help but excited about the whole ethos of the Olympics after listening to Laurie!

"Just going to the sessions and listening to the past Olympians speak was fantastic - we are really keen to strive for Olympic glory. The team has been training really well ahead of Dubai and if we stick to our strategy and game plan then I'm sure we can have a successful tournament.

"Malcolm Page was particularly inspiring. To come back from disappointment in Beijing to do so well in London was fantastic."

Kitty Chiller, Chef de Mission for the Australian Olympic Team at Rio 2016, said: "It was wonderful to have the Australian Rugby Sevens squads at the first IGNITE session. IGNITE was the perfect opportunity for Rugby Sevens players to meet with other potential Olympians and mix with other sports."

"There is nothing quite like the Olympic Games, and hopefully our Rugby players have a much better understanding of what to expect having attended IGNITE. No doubt hearing from Laurie Lawrence and a panel of Olympic legends will motivate them to push harder each session.

"Their passion and enthusiasm to compete at the Olympics is very evident and I hope the road to Rio is rewarding for the Australian sides who are already in the midst of their Rio qualification."

The AOC is running 12 IGNITE sessions, launched 21 months out from the Rio Olympic Games, across the country and focuses on 120 years of Olympic history.

The Men's Sevens team continues its quest for qualification when they head to Dubai this weekend for the second round of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series, with the tournament kicking off on Thursday. For the Women, the Dubai Sevens is the first of six tournaments in the World Rugby Women's Sevens World Series.