Guide to Australian athletes working towards the Tokyo Olympics – two months to go
Sharni Williams, rugby 7s
Sharni Williams has been leading the Australian women’s rugby 7s team as co-captain since the 2016 Rio Olympics where the team won the gold medal. In 2017, Sharni returned to the Wallaroos to play at the Rugby World Cup. She has been wearing both hats back and forth between the 15-person and 7-person formats. Together with Shannon Parry, close friend and co-captain, Sharni has stayed in Odawara City, Kanagawa for a training camp.
The bushfires in summer 2019-2020 tragically impacted Sharni’s hometown of Batlow in NSW. In response, she launched a fund-raising campaign to help her community and people affected by the disaster.
“Without doubt, this year has thrown up challenges for athletes both mentally and physically and for us as a group, it is about overcoming them and working hard to achieve our goal of Olympic Gold again,” said Sharni in an article by Rugby Australia in October 2020.
Maurice Longbottom, rugby 7s
Maurice Longbottom, recognised as Australian Men’s Sevens magician is quick and creative. A carpenter by trade, Maurice was told he was too small for rugby, but has consistency, technique and strength helped him secure his debut for Australia in 2017. Now as a full-time player, he has earned 20 caps for Australia in 2020.
As an Indigenous player, Maurice has showcased the Australian Competition and Delegation Uniform incorporating artwork by Indigenous artist.
“It’s about the 52 Indigenous Australian Olympians whose footsteps I am looking to follow in. I want to live up to their expectations and do them proud and also represent my culture, my people, my family and my community back home,” said Maurice in an interview with the Australian Olympic Committee.
Katharina Haecker, Judo
A judoka in the under 63kg category, Katharina Haecker is ranked 18th in the world ranking as of May 2021 which is enough to qualify for Tokyo Olympics. Born to an Australian father and a German mother, Katharina started judo at the age of six in Germany. Since her selection to represent Australia in 2014, she has won the Oceanian Championships five consecutive times. At the 2016 Rio Games, she lost to Miku Tashiro at the second round.
Her favourite techniques are koshi-guruma and ura-nage. Most recently, she won silver at the Asian Oceania Championships in April 2021.
Kyle Chalmers, swimming
When he was 18, Kyle Chalmers became a champion in the 100m Freestyle at the Rio Games. At the two World Championships in 2015 and 2019 after the Olympics, he stood on the podium in the Medley Relay and Freestyle and was seen as Tokyo 2020 hopeful.
However, in August 2019, less than a year ahead of the original schedule of the Tokyo Games, Kyle surgery to treat a heart condition and then another shoulder operation in November 2020 after the Games were postponed. After the surgery, Kyle posted on social media that “Rehab starts now, bring on Tokyo 202One.” Having demonstrated an amazing recovery, Kyle won three Freestyle races at the Australian Championships and is looking to win at Tokyo.
Read more on Sharni Williams here;
Read more on Maurice Longbottom here;
Read more on Katharina Haecker here;
Read more on Kyle Chalmers here;