'I'd definitely do it again': Rieko Ioane keen for second Olympics
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics came to an end on Sunday, and Ioane was one of many around the globe who tuned in to watch more than 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries compete for medals in 339 events across 33 different sports.
Unlike most others, though, Ioane took a different perspective while watching this Olympics given his previous experience as an Olympian in 2016.
At the age of 19, Ioane competed at the Rio Olympics for the All Blacks Sevens in their ill-fated campaign that saw them dumped out in the quarter-finals by Fiji following a shock pool play defeat to Japan.
Sir Gordon Tietjens’ squad – which also featured past and present All Blacks stars Sonny Bill Williams, Akira Ioane and Augustine Pulu – eventually finished in fifth place in the inaugural men’s rugby sevens event, well short of their gold medal target.
While watching the current All Blacks Sevens side redeem their failings in Brazil by clinching a silver medal at Tokyo Stadium almost two weeks ago, Ioane had the chance to reflect on his time as a teenage Olympian in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
“I look back now and, honestly, it’s only hit me now over these Olympics about how special it is to be an Olympian,” the 38-test international told the New Zealand Herald.
“I think at the time I didn’t appreciate the opportunity I had. I guess some of the athletes in Tokyo now might be quite similar. It may take time to reflect and think, ‘Holy s***’, you were an Olympian.”
Ioane described his time at the Olympics as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience and that he would jump at the chance to compete at another Olympics in the future.
“We didn’t get the result we expected, but at the same time, I reflect now that I was part of a special group – an Olympian,” he said.
“I got to witness some of the great athletes. I met swimmer Michael Phelps, I went to some Team USA basketball games. It was once-in-a-lifetime stuff. Apart from the outcome, if I had the time again I’d definitely do it again.”
The next Summer Olympics is scheduled to be held in Paris in 2024, with rugby sevens set to make its third consecutive Olympic appearance in the French capital.
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