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Evania Pelite: ‘Rugby sevens is driving standards for girls’s game in Australia’


Evania Pelite: ‘Rugby sevens is driving standards for girls’s game in Australia’


Heading to Rio for the 2016 Olympics, Evania Pelite’s consciousness was no longer totally on returning to Australia with a gold medal packed in her luggage. She and her teammates have been similarly intent on exposing the sport of rugby sevens to the relaxation of the arena and doing their best to inspire a new era of girls to pick up an oval-formed ball.

Fast-forward three years, and with the Tokyo Games just 12 months away, matters have been modified for the 24-year-old from Brisbane—and the sport. The sevens are upward after Australia secured that gold medal when the game debuted in Brazil’s games. Pelite can concentrate completely on triumphing again-to-back Olympic titles in Japan.

We did our job in Rio in setting up rugby sevens, which is not best as a male-dominated game, but a female game,” Pelite tells Guardian Australia. “You’ve got younger girls that now apprehend rugby sevens and that there’s a pathway to becoming an Olympic rugby sevens participant. We got here out with that intention. Winning the gold medal was amazing for us; however, this year, the pressure of receiving the medal – and now having to return it – has shifted the focus.

Pelite, who took up the game simplest after transitioning from contact football in the past 17, sees herself as a pioneer in a sport that has struggled for mainstream publicity despite extended and storied records dating back to its roots in nineteenth-century Scotland. The ladies’ sport has emerged into the spotlight, surprisingly, currently, and has helped largely with its inclusion as an Olympic sport for the first time in Rio – and the subsequent feats of Pelite and her teammates.

The men’s sport became included in the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 1998. However, women had to wait to make their debut until last year at the Gold Coast. The event proved a big achievement, although it led to a gut-wrenching defeat for Pelite and Australia in the very last opposition to New Zealand.

Sevens is without a doubt on the up,” Pelite says. “We’ve continually looked at sevens being the front runner for women’s sport – we had been one of the first to emerge as full-time professional [female] athletes in Australia; we also got pay parity with the guys last year. I experience sevens, which honestly meets the requirements for girls’ sports in Australia.

The variety of athletes Australia dispatches to Tokyo may eclipse the contingent of 482 sent to Athens in 2004, the maximum despatched to a remote place Games. Next year may be Australia’s most gender-balanced Games in Olympic history, with girls making up forty-nine % of the athletes.

“It’s awesome for younger girls for you to appearance up and understand that there’s an identical opportunity for them to symbolize Australia in an Olympics and to recognize ladies are competing for fifty of the medal tally,” Pelite says. “It’s an amazing reputation for the tough paintings the women installed.

Pelite is familiar with her function as a function version to younger human beings across Australia and the sector, an honor she does now not take gently. “We all recognize being within the limelight; you’re going to need to sell it positively,” she says. “There are continually humans looking at you – grown women and men, however, also younger girls and boys – that also have aspiration. We can show them that difficult paintings do pay off. Five years ago, I could not have imagined being an Olympian now, so anything is viable.

The girls’ sevens team is one of 3 Australian teams, alongside inventive swimming and guys’ archery, to have secured their area in Tokyo. The subsequent 365 days might be spent preparing for a tilt at a second consecutive Olympic gold medal. With nine individuals on the squad remaining from 2016, they have rediscovered a way to cross approximately it.

But something else spurs them on the frustration of that epic Commonwealth’s last defeat at Robina Stadium closing year when Australia misplaced New Zealand’s golden-factor attempt deep into extra time. “That became a heartbreaking loss,” Pelite says. Notwithstanding the heartache, a year later, she can see the positive side of what turned into an extraordinary advert for sport and women’s recreation.

As tough as it becomes to lose that gold medal to New Zealand, it becomes excellent for us to exhibit what rugby sevens are. It became one of the most satisfactory sevens finals you could have requested,” she says. “As a good deal, because it hurts my coronary heart to lose, we’re never for the game nor to put on an amazing display for everybody.

Erika Norman

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