Olympic medal winner going for gold in Rugby

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 1 April 2014
 Olympic medal winner going for gold in Rugby
Elana Meyers in bobsleigh action in Sochi earlier this month - Photo: IOC

Elana Meyers takes a seat at her hotel in Guangzhou, slightly jetlagged but settled in for her first ever Rugby tournament. Interesting for her, but even more interesting given the fact that she's only playing the Game for the last month.

While the USA team were exciting crowds in Atlanta and Brazil during rounds two and three of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series in February, Elana was picking up a silver medal in bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.  

So, given the fact that the two sports are the proverbial chalk and cheese, why pick Rugby?

"I watched Rugby before and we've had bobsledders who've come from a Rugby background. It looked like a fast sport, and it looked like an exciting sport, especially Rugby Sevens - it looked like something I could be good at," explained Meyers. 

"My father actually played professional (American) football, so growing up I had that heart for field sports and sports like football, so Rugby just seemed to fit the bill."

"The main thing that transfers over from Rugby is our power and our speed. In order to be one of the fastest (bobsled) pushers in the world, you have to be very strong and very fast so I'm excited to see how it actually will transfer to the Rugby field."

Meyers has only been with the squad at the Olympic Training Center at Chula Vista, California, for the past four weeks, meeting up with the team after the last rounds of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series in Atlanta and Brazil.

Hardest thing to learn

"The US team has been so welcoming and so helpful in teaching me the Game of Rugby. We're basically starting from scratch so I'm learning everything - how to pass, catch the ball, lineouts, scrums and working with our strength and conditioning guy Jarred to try and get some cardio going!"

Running hard is the easy part for Meyers. She knows how to speed down a track and she has the leg drive and power - you can't be one of the best sledders in the world without being able to "pump the legs". But other parts of the Game are still a little more difficult for the girl from Georgia.

"The hardest thing for me is picking up the lateral movement. For seven years I've been trained for bobsled so I just go straight. So it's taking me some time to make sure I get the lateral movement down, and make sure I'm tracking correctly on defence."

Since she joined up with the USA Women's Sevens team, all the talk around Meyers' inclusion has been about the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, and winning another yet Olympic medal, this time with Rugby. And while she may not have all the skills with the oval ball just yet, Meyers knows a thing or two about training at the highest level for the Olympics.

"I think we're taking it day by day right now. My goal is to help the team in any way possible, to help team USA grow. If it's in Rio 2016 that's great, but at the end of the day I'm here to whatever I can for the team ... whether I'm on the squad or not."


Meyers and her USA teammates take to the field at the University Town Stadium in Guangzhou, China, on Saturday where they face a tough pool against neighbours Canada, Russia and France.

All the action from China (GMT +8) will be streamed live on wsws.irb.com from kick-off through to the Cup final on Sunday.


Round 4
5-6 April 2014

Venue: Guangzhou Uni Town Stadium
City: Guangzhou
Capacity: 50,000

Series Standings
1New ZealandNew Zealand96
  • New Zealand win China Sevens
  • England - Plate Winners
  • Ireland - Bowl Winners