Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Fire and Ice Drive Rio Dream; Australia's Women's Rugby Sevens Captain Is on a Quest for Gold, Writes Josh Spasaro

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Fire and Ice Drive Rio Dream; Australia's Women's Rugby Sevens Captain Is on a Quest for Gold, Writes Josh Spasaro

Article excerpt

FOR Sharni Williams, the fire in her belly was the antidote to the ice-cold conditions she would encounter every morning on her quest for Olympic immortality.

Before women's rugby sevens went professional, the Canberra-based Australian captain would launch each day with a work-out at 5.30am, before starting her day job as a mechanic. It was then more training in the evening with her days finishing at 10.30pm.

It could all be worth it, however, with the Aussie women ranked No.1 in the world and favourite to claim gold in Rio in August.

"Fire and ice," Williams tells Australian Regional Media. "Ice is for Arctic composure and fire is having that fire in the belly, to go out there and give everything.

"It was very draining.

"But I think the biggest thing for me is the Australian anthem - standing out there with the girls and singing loud and proud for my country.

"It's something you cannot take away from me. I'd say that to myself every time I'd get up and go to work and feel crap or I didn't want to do it.

"It became an addiction after that."

It was that attitude that also enabled the 28-year-old to return from a horror knee injury in time for the final round of the 2015-16 World Sevens series in Clermont-Ferrand, France, in late May.

The Aussies lost the final 29-19 to Canada but finished 14 competition points clear of New Zealand in the overall standings.

"It (the knee injury) happened on the first day of the series in Dubai against England," Williams recalled.

"I dislocated my patella and tore the ligament off the bone. It left a 10cm scar on my right knee.

"I carried the ball into three girls and got twisted. I knew something wasn't right. They wanted me to go back on but I wasn't up to it.

"I've got a bit of mongrel and I'll play through anything but that wasn't the best."

So Williams went back to her old slogan of "fire and ice" - preached by her national coach Tim Walsh - to get her through the testing six-month recovery process.

"I couldn't run for a while. But I've come out the other side and I'm a better person and athlete," she said.

"It's taken me a while to get the power back in my leg, but I've got some amazing people around me with amazing knowledge. …

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