May, 2016 – Last Chance to Stake Claim on an Olympic Dream

Life is made of changes. Everything around us is changing, and we change to accommodate. Goals help us remain constant to whom we want to be and what we want to achieve. For most of us the goal of being an Olympic athlete has passed through our consciousness at some point in our lives. For the athletes competing in the London 7s and France 7s over the next few weekends this goal is very close to reality.

One of my first USA press passes was to the Womens 7s inaugural series tournament in Houston where the USA lost to England in the final. There were maybe three journalist there. The stadium was mostly empty. After the tournament I was on the pitch with an IRB (now World Rugby) person. She said the tournament was committed to building in Houston. But change happens while a few things remain constant. The England side I saw in Atlanta in March looked very similar to the side that won in Houston 3 years ago. From the USA team who were part of the squad in Houston there are possibly four players still competing for an Olympic spot. One former USA player, Nathalie Marchino, will realize her Olympic dream playing for the birthplace of her mother, Colombia.

The weekend before the women have their final tournament of the season May 28-29th in Clermont-Ferrand, the men will end their 2015-16 season in London. Although this seasons 7s series have been more about developing the right side for Olympic success than winning the series, the final stops will bring plenty of drama as coaches try final changes to the teams they will select to go to Rio. The USA coach, Mike Friday, seems to have picked close to what will be his Olympic squad for the Paris 7s starting May 11th except no Carlin Isles. If the USA men do not end up in the cup final, I would expect a lot of changes for the next weekend in London.

My childhood dreams of being an Olympian have long faded. Soon I will be 64. There have been many changes to a life that since my first match against Pensacola in 1972 has been largely spent as a rugby fan. My retirement from a career in education in 2011 allowed me an opportunity to play sports journalist and follow the sport I love through many incredible events like the 2011 World Cup New Zealand, 2013 7s World Cup Moscow, 2014 Women’s World Cup Paris, 2015 World Cup England, and many World Cup qualifying and HSBC 7s competitions around the USA. Unfortunately getting to the matches is getting harder and writing about something you watched on a bad stream depressing. The final at Clermont-Ferrand will be my last 7s where I play like a sports journalist.

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