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7’s star Burgess aiming for more Olympic glory in 2020

Burgess aiming for more Olympic glory in 2020

Team Great Britain Rugby Sevens star Phillip Burgess was part of the seven-a-side team that won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

It was the first time in 108 years that Team GB was represented at Olympic level rugby and a first for a seven-a-side team.

However, they suffered a 43-7 defeat to favourites Fiji in the final of the tournament.

Burgess is hoping to get picked for the squad to play in Tokyo in two years’ time and believes that rugby sevens can become a long-term Olympic sport.

“Sevens is still involved with the Olympics in Tokyo 2020, post that I am not sure if it will still be involved,” said Burgess. “Hopefully we put on a good show in Rio and hopefully we do it again in Tokyo and then hopefully it will become an Olympic sport for the foreseeable future.

“For me personally, I am aiming for it, but rugby is a fickle game there is a lot of chance for injury, so I am trying to keep my body right and keep working on what I am doing with England and keep putting in performances, then you never know what will happen when we get there.”

The England Sevens captain compared being selected for the Olympic side to getting a British Lion call up, and admitted he put his ‘heart and soul’ into the tournament.

“For me as a rugby player growing up I always wanted to play for England, it was a great opportunity for me to play sevens, to reach the pinnacle and play for England sevens was fantastic,” he said. “Then the Olympics came on the scene and that was an opportunity for me to play for the equivalent of the British Lions, that was something that I really wanted to put my heart and soul into.”

The former Cornish Pirates captain admitted that being selected to represent Great Britain at the highest level was a ‘dream come true’.

“I had three years building into the Olympics, I put my mind to it with England and worked as hard as I could. Then we got to the training block and fortunately enough after the three months there I was selected, it was a dream come true really,” said Burgess.

“As a boy you want to do the best you can, and for me and the route that I took, the Olympics was the best place for me to play. The experience was amazing and to win a silver medal on top of that was incredible,” he added.

Fiji’s win over Team GB in the 2016 final was the countries first every Olympic medal of any kind. Reflecting, Burgees doesn’t believe Team GB lost the gold as Fiji were ‘outstanding’ and they were the ‘underdogs’.

“I don’t think that we ever lost the gold because Fiji were outstanding, it was a very tough final, for us personally we won the silver. We went in there as massive underdogs, no one really knew us,” he said.

Burgess added: “We did our business and came away with a silver, which was pretty awesome. We weren’t at all gutted that we didn’t get the gold. Coming into the Olympics, Fiji were two-year back-to-back World Series champions, so they were the hot team.

“Throughout the whole tournament we were unknowns, then when we go to the final, we came up against a Fiji team that were mercurial, nobody could touch them. They won the ball back on every kick off, they played offloads that stuck and everything like that, really it was fairy-tale for them and to be part of it was pretty awesome to be fair.”

(This great interview was by young and upcoming sports journalist Joel Pattison. Keep an eye out for more of his fantastic articles)