Abbie Brown even more determined to win an Olympic medal in Paris after rollercoaster Games in Tokyo

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TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 29, 2021: ROC Team's Anna Baranchuk and Great Britain's Abbie Brown, Megan Jones (L-R) are in action in their women's rugby sevens pool A match at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, at Tokyo Stadium. Valery Sharifulin/TASS.No use Russia.
Great Britain's Abbie Brown (centre) in action in their women's rugby sevens pool A match at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Team GB rugby sevens co-captain Abbie Brown says she’s finally adjusting to settling back to normality after a rollercoaster Olympic Games, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.

For the second consecutive Olympics, the team captured the public’s imagination throughout their run – but couldn’t quite bring back a medal to show for it.

Since competing in the delayed Tokyo Games in the summer, the 25-year-old has needed time to unwind and focus on her life away from the pitch.

“It has just been nice to see people again,” said Brown, who is one of over 1,000 athletes who are able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding.

“Before the Games I just had to not see people, because I knew that could cost me a place at the Olympics, so I stayed at home.

“A non-negotiable for me was making sure the reason I didn’t miss out wasn’t Covid. So now I have caught up with friends and family and tried to put rugby out of my mind.

“But it has been so nice to hear from people messaging me since saying, ‘my little girl wants to play rugby because of you.

“How we inspire people to pick up a rugby ball was a big aim for us going into Tokyo.”

Brown, who also represented Team GB at the Rio Olympics back in 2016, was a major part of the British side that inspired so many with some thrilling performances in Japan.

As well as scoring a last-gasp try against the Russian Olympic Committee in the pool stage, she also crossed the line in that memorable quarter-final win over USA.

“We knew we could do beat them [ROC], but my legs were shaking when I crossed the line. We were all nervous in that game, but kept believing,” she added.

“The biggest highlight for me though, was the USA. It wasn’t pretty, but that is the thing about sevens, it’s rarely pretty.

“But we had so much passion, heart and desire in that game. We really gave it our all. It was special because I have never been part of a game like that.”

After a painful defeat to France, Brown, her teammates and coach Simon Middleton had to pick themselves up for the bronze medal match – not an easy thing for any athlete.

Brown added: “It was really hard. If I could change any game it would be that France game.

“We didn’t play well. The better team won, and that is the most frustrating thing.

“We didn’t carry on our form in the semi-final.

“It was difficult going into the bronze match, because you have just come off a loss and our goal was to a win gold.

“That is sevens though – you have to brush it off.

“Were we all able to move on past that semi-final? It’s something I question now, but I don’t know.

Despite the pain of coming so close to an Olympic medal again, Brown remains undeterred in her quest and already has sights firmly on a medal at Paris 2024, to go alongside her Commonwealth bronze she won in 2018.

“Paris in three years is huge. That to me, coming off two fourth-places, makes it a huge goal to win a medal then,” said Brown, who hopes to add to the 1,000-plus Olympic and Paralympic medals achieved by British athletes since National Lottery funding to elite sport started in 1997, in Paris 2024.

“But above all I want to keep enjoying it, because your rugby career doesn’t last forever.”

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes

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