Australian rugby sevens star Sharni Williams is determined to prove age is just a number by competing at a third Olympic Games as a 36-year-old.
Williams was co-captain of the Australian side that made history at the Rio Olympics in 2016 by winning the first women’s rugby sevens gold medal and returned for another shot at gold in 2021 at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, but Australia were bundled out in the quarterfinals by Fiji.
The 34-year-old, who is set to line up for Australia at the Sydney Sevens, which begins on Friday at Allianz Stadium, says retirement isn’t on her mind and she wants to change perceptions about what is possible.
“I’m still here. I love it. Rugby’s given me my identity and it makes me who I am at the moment,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We talk about limits in life, and we put limits on ourselves and everyone puts that card on you [regarding age]. It’s just a number.
“I’ve got some great people around me, I’ve got some great support. [Strength and conditioning guru] Tommy Carter has changed my physique.”
Pressed on whether the Paris Olympics was a realistic goal, Williams said she felt in good enough physical condition to get there.
Williams and Charlotte Caslick are the only remaining players from the 2016 Olympic squad.
Australia won the Triple Crown last year: gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, a World Sevens Series title and a World Cup victory.
“You can’t go past the triple crown. That was unbelievable,” Williams said. “The World Cup win was pretty amazing for me.
“To play on home soil is the best thing in the world. You’ve got people yelling and screaming and partying. The noise is for you and not against you. It can really change a game,” Williams added.