Even professional athletes have a tough time, both physically and mentally. There are days when they don’t have a team of coaches pushing them on the field or in the gym, so they must find the passion and drive to keep going – even during the long Olympics. Here, 7 Olympic rugby athletes from 2016 and 2021 share their tips on staying motivated and inspired.
Alev Kelter, 30, usually plays half scrum in rugby 7s. She is 5’6 inches tall, 165 pounds and was raised in Eagle River, Alaska. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2015, competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and was selected for the 2021 United States Olympic team.
“When I train, I keep in mind how my body feels and recovers. I like to train on top of my rugby training, but I think you can get fatigued if you stick to one type of exercise. Some days I’ll swim or do low-impact exercises if I’m in pain; on days Other when I feel refreshed I will run or surf!My advice is to follow a routine to listen to what your body needs and enjoy trying different sports and workouts.I love water and found that Deep End Fitness [a water-based workout] It has helped me tremendously with my mental skills under stress and maintaining a pull-free mentality! “
Kelly Griffin, 34, usually plays a prostitute in Rugby 7. She’s 5’4 inches tall, 145 pounds from Berkeley, California. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2008, and participated in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“I think one of the misconceptions about training for the Olympics is that it’s more like a sports movie. There’s a reason the ‘working hard’ part in movies is always a montage. Every day is about paying for the smallest part that’s better than the day before. Often, no It’s nice, and I have to remind myself that even if this running/lifting/passing/etc. wasn’t perfect, I at least made progress.So if the workout looks ugly and feels not like what the trainer looks like on a video on YouTube but you crossed your limits – that’s what will get you to your goals.”
Chris Thomas, 28, usually plays a prostitute and sometimes supports rugby 7. She’s 5’8 inches tall, weighs 152 pounds, and is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015. Chris missed the selection due to an injury just before the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics but was named as the co-captain of the 2021 Olympic team.
“Training for the Olympics involves a lot of hard work. We have to show up every day and commit to doing our best and going above and beyond to compete at a high level. Despite the many distractions that may keep us from our goals, we constantly use self-discipline and [rely on] each other to stay on task. As a team athlete, we lift each other up, motivate each other daily and trust each other wholeheartedly.”
Nicole Heverland, 26, usually plays a prostitute or a half-scrum in rugby 7. She’s 5’5″, 145 pounds, and she’s from Whitefish, Mont. She attended West Point Academy, and was a protected at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She was selected for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.
“There is no substitute for hard work. Staying after a workout is working on kicking, doing extra conditioning sessions, taking ice baths to recover every day, adding extra carbs to a meal, and stretching muscles every day. I plan to exercise well and plan to exercise for the long haul. I’m thinking Always on longevity and how can I best treat my body to perform optimally. I think: What can I do to really differentiate myself from the rest? I see obstacles as opportunities for growth.”
Abby Gustitis, 30, usually plays a prop or prostitute in Rugby 7. She’s 5’11 inches, £170, and is from Whitehall, Maryland. She graduated from the University of Maryland in 2013, and was selected for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
“As an athlete, I know I’m going to run into obstacles, whether it’s a stiff shoulder, not making choices or something that has nothing to do with my sport. With these, I try to see it as an opportunity to overcome the relapse. If my shoulder hurts, I can still work on my leg strength.” If I don’t form the team, I can ask the coach to be completely honest with me and work out my problem while the team is competing. Mostly, I try to remind myself that there will always be people who will doubt me. If I am willing to work, I will enjoy the successes. I write my own way.”
Jordan (Grey) Mathias, 28, usually plays rugby 7s. She is 5’11”, 185 pounds and is from Calgary, Canada. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 2016, and was nominated for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.
“To train like an Olympian, you have to push yourself beyond your limits. When you think you can’t go any further, you keep putting one foot in front of the other until there is nothing left in the tank.”
Victory (VIX) Fulian
Victoria (Vicks) Folayan, 36, usually plays center or wing in rugby 7. She’s 5’5″, £160 and is from Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Stanford University in 2006, and participated in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“Training like an Olympian is training not just for yourself, but for everyone who has invested in the journey. Every rep is an opportunity to make someone proud.”
Lauren Doyle, 30, usually plays a half fork/winger in Rugby 7. She’s 5’6 inches, 150 pounds, and is from Bodie, Illinois. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2014, competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and was selected in the 2021 Tokyo Games.
“Everything in moderation. I never deprive myself of sugar or fat, I never go too far. The other day I made a cinnamon roll from scratch, ate one and brought the rest to the Olympic Training Center for everyone to have. It’s about finding what works for you and embracing it.”
While most of us will never know the excitement and intensity of competing at the Olympics, we can learn from those who know what it’s like to train and stay motivated in such a challenging environment. Tune in on NBC to catch the seventh women’s rugby match on Thursday, July 29-31.