'Age is just a number': Sharni Williams re-signs with third Olympics in sight
Legendary rugby player Sharni Williams has signed on to the sevens for another year as she pursues her second Olympic gold and third Games appearance.
Williams helped lead the Australian rugby sevens to victory when she co-captained the team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Though her side came second in the pool round in Tokyo, they were knocked out after a devastating 14-12 loss to Fiji in the quarter-finals.
The team locked in a spot for Paris 2024 after a masterclass performance at the 2022/23 World Series, which means Williams’ decision to re-sign will give her another shot at the top prize.
“It gives me that opportunity to chase the dream of going to another Olympics,” the 35-year-old said.
“I’m just really excited to be given this opportunity and still be playing at this level at 35 years old.
“Age is just a number. It’s about how you feel.”
Of the winning 12-person squad, only two remain – Williams and 28-year-old Charlotte Caslick.
But the forward is confident the new team has what it takes to claim the gong in just over 400 days’ time.
“There’s a lot of young girls,” Williams said.
“They obviously bring my age up a little bit – I’m a bit older now.
“But the talent that they have, the opportunities they have playing for women’s sport is just through the roof.”
Young guns such as 19-year-old Teagan Levi and her 21-year-old sister Maddison, who made a shock choice to pivot from AFLW to rugby union, have inspired the team and brought fans to stadium seats.
“It’s really cool to be able to learn from them as well as teach them,” Williams said.
“Having you know some of these 18- or 19-year-old girls will be able to have a gold medal is going to be the pinnacle of our sport, and that’s what brings women to rugby sevens.
“Let’s really rally around them and learn from them because we can give back to them too.”
The rebuilt national team has sparkled on the world stage. They won the 2021/22 World Rugby Sevens Series and finished second the following year.
The lead-up to the Olympics will be about giving the young players confidence to play to their potential.
“We’ve created a lot of opportunities for these young girls to play through the World Series, and our preseason is going to be pretty full-on,” Williams said.
“They’ll be able to play different games over in Canada and Ireland, just really give them confidence.
“That’s what I needed when I was a young kid, to go out there and be confident playing for my country.”