Alena Saili’s has dreamed of playing in the Olympic Games for years, and last week, she was just told that they have come true.
Saili was named in the New Zealand Black Ferns sevens squad for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan this July. She then looked back at her days in highschool when she dreamed of running down the pitch of an Olympic stage in the black jersey.
The Southland Girls’ High School alumni was a school girl super star at an early age of her rugby career. Her skills were a stand out among the rest off the school girls and her potential was easily spotted .
Saili said in an interview that the first phone call she made about getting into the Olympic squad was a call to her parents.
“To be honest it didn’t really hit me until I sat down and had a think about all the people that helped me, right from high school and even back to when my mum was playing.
“It’s been a dream for me since high school when I sat down and watched the Rio Olympics [in 2016]. I thought, ‘that’s definitely something I want to do and achieve’. To do it now when I’m 22 years old, I’m just really grateful at the moment. I can’t wait for the journey, I can’t wait for the tournament to be honest.”
“They gave me an opportunity to express myself on the field and just have some fun. That was the best part, I had a good group of girls around me at school which made it fun and not a chore. We had a good time, and I’m just lucky the pathway opened up when it did for me.”
“I think there was a period where the pressure did get on top of me and I guess that just comes with being an athlete now, there are going to be those times.
“But we have a culture [in the Black Ferns] where you are able to express yourself and do what you do and the decisions you make on the field will be a good one if you just back yourself. It’s taken some time for me to get there as an athlete, but the environment has helped me grow.”
Saili and the Black Ferns are set to fly to Tokyo soon as they make final preparations for the Olympic Games. New Zealand has vowed to come home with nothing but gold this year after their dramatic loss to Australia in 2016 at the Rio Olympics.