26 Jan 2021

NZ Sevens star: Olympic cancellation would be "gutting"

11:09 am on 26 January 2021

Black Ferns Sevens star Michaela Blyde takes a glass half full approach to life, but she concedes she'd be beyond "gutted" if the Tokyo Olympics were cancelled.

New Zealand's Michaela Blyde after scoring a try on Day 2 of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens at FMG Stadium in Hamilton. Sunday 26 January 2020. © image by Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

Black Ferns Sevens player Michaela Blyde is desperate for the Olympics to go ahead. Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga 2020 / www.photosport.nz / Photosport Ltd

"I'd be absolutely devastated, so gutted. So much so that we're not even going to talk about it. We're not going to give it that negative energy we're going to stay positive and keep thinking it's happening. That's what we've got to keep believing and saying."

Blyde would have every reason to be upset should the Games not go ahead. In 2016 she was picked as a travelling reserve for the Rio Olympics, where the Black Ferns took silver after losing to Australia in the final.

However she never played in Brazil and said at the time how determined she was to play in Tokyo.

"I try not to think about it because my No 1 goal for 2016 was to make the Olympic team. To miss out because of one person's opinion or because of a player being fitter than me or something, it was quite gutting.

"I wanted to be there to be playing not watching, so it was a difficult trip to be part of. Nonetheless, I was grateful and I will definitely be working to get there in 2020."

Tokyo 2020 is now Tokyo 2021, if it happens at all, and Blyde, who spent the four years from 2016 cementing her place in the New Zealand Sevens side, says last year's Olympic delay was a bitter enough pill to swallow.

"It was definitely a struggle last March or April when it was announced that the Olympics were postponed? I was definitely one who that probably took it to heart a little bit too much because I'd prepared for that moment since I was 16 years old! And when that opportunity was taken away from me, it was almost like a grieving moment for me; a feeling of another year and I felt like physically and mentally I was in my best shape and position possible to trial for the Olympic Games.

"That was incredibly disappointing for me and it did take me a little while to look at it in a positive way. It's definitely taken a while for me to be in the position that I'm in now where I'm thinking, OK I've done all I can and the team has done all we can to get us where we are now. It has been a challenge for everyone and everyone has taken it in a different way.

"But now we're all prepared for anything to happen and that's really crucial when it comes to this year. We might have to go to Tokyo early and stay there or we might not be able to stay at the athletes village. We just have to be prepared for anything that comes our way."

New Zealand's Michaela Blyde breaks away for a try on Day 2 of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens at FMG Stadium in Hamilton. Sunday 26 January 2020. © image by Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

Michaela Blyde breaks away for a try on Day 2 of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens at FMG Stadium in Hamilton. Sunday 26 January 2020. Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga 2020 / www.photosport.nz / Photosport Ltd

This year's Tokyo Games are in doubt as Japan battles to contain a third wave of Covid-19 infections, with Tokyo and 10 other prefectures in a state of emergency. A recent survey found 80 percent of the Japanese public wanted the Games cancelled or postponed again.

However the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said last week the postponed Games will take place in July and August and there is no "Plan B".

There's also no Sevens World Series this year amid the pandemic meaning the Black Ferns might not get to play any international opposition before the Olympics.

"It will be a challenge knowing we may not play teams like England, or the USA until the Olympics, but we just have to focus on ourselves and prepare for any game plan. Hopefully an Oceania bubble can be created so we can get some sort of international sevens against potentially Fiji and Australia."

Blyde said they're preparing to be away from New Zealand for up to two months due to travel restrictions and having to acclimatise to the heat of the Japanese summer, with temperatures usually sitting around 30 degrees in Tokyo in July. Though she concedes nothing is certain amid the pandemic.

"There's the potential that we could be away for eight weeks including quarantine. So, it was important we spent some quality time with our family and friends over New Years because it's going to be a tough year when it comes to the time we're going to be away and all the quarantine and travel requirements due to Covid.

"We've been told about five or six different plans since April, haha. We're hoping to be able to go to Japan a couple of weeks before the Olympic Sevens competition so we can get some training in and get used to the heat. However, we're only allowed in the Athletes Village for five or six days, so we may have to go earlier than that and stay outside of the village.

"We also might go somewhere else, like Australia or the Pacific, to play Aussie and Fiji, and then head to Tokyo from there as there's no point going away for a week or two to play games and then come back to New Zealand when we have to quarantine at home for two weeks. We have to make the most of that opportunity of going away. It could be a long time away from home but we're all prepared for it and to make those sacrifices."