In 2021 Freddie Roddick was planning his summer around watching the rugby 7s at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with his family writes Alec McQuarrie.
A year later and Roddick will be at the Coventry Stadium with his parents, but he will not be taking his seat next to them in the stands.
The High Wycombe-born 23-year-old made his World Series debut in January this year, scoring a decisive try in Malaga to seal the bronze medal against Australia with only four teammates on the pitch.
Roddick also ran out for GB Sevens in Canada and Dubai last year, but despite international recognition, selection came as a surprise for the Heriot-Watt University graduate.
With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Roddick hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.
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He said: “My parents bought tickets when they were first released about a year ago, not knowing whether I would be in the team or in the England squad for this year.
“So, it seems cool to now be there when a year ago I thought I would be going as a member of the crowd and a supporter.
“Not sure there was a ticket with my name on it, but you could say there was a ticket for me, but I obviously won’t be needing that now.
“It has been an amazing 12 months I’ve had to be able to put myself into this position, I’m fortunate and feel very lucky.
“In the height of Covid two years ago, if you’d asked me whether I’d be sat here the concept would’ve been completely alien to me.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes in total, and having secured his place on the squad, Roddick is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in his home country.
And despite visiting far-flung places to play rugby, Roddick is relishing the prospect of competing on home soil.
“Definitely being here in Birmingham at a home Games is very special.
“We are very lucky to travel the world and play at all sorts of venues but playing in front of your home crowd and the people you love is so important.
“It’s not very often you have a home multi-sport event in the UK, so I’m hoping the rest of the fans have the same passion and optimism about it all.
“Lots of friends, family and loved ones will be there and some people from my local rugby club High Wycombe, I’m really excited to have all those people that mean so much to me in the crowd.”
And for Roddick, a place on the podium would be the ultimate honour to cap a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It would mean everything to win a medal, it would be a completely awesome experience, something beyond dreams.
“But now it has become a reality and it’s a massive motivator for this group. It would be everything at a home Games with my family and friends there, it would be super cool.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.