'You can only peak once': Australia measuring SVNS success for Olympics
Australian rugby sevens gun Maddison Levi is borrowing from the nation’s world-beating swimmers in an attempt to peak for Paris.
The reigning World Cup and Commonwealth Games champions have won the Dubai and Cape Town legs of the new women’s sevens season to cap a faultless calendar year.
Perth next month will host one of six World Series tournaments remaining before the Olympics in July.
Gold medallists at the Rio 2016 Games in the sport’s Olympic debut, Australia subsequently lost ground to a dominant New Zealand.
But the program has risen again to put Tim Walsh’s women among the favourites for Paris gold.
Levi and her younger sister Teagan have been key to that resurgence, the latter impressing this year with her gameplay and defence to complement Maddison’s established offensive threat.
Wary not to peak too soon, the older sibling says the team have taken a leaf from the Dolphins’ Olympic playbook to navigate the next seven months.
“The swimmers have their trials a month out from the Olympics,” the Gold Coast talent, whose first taste of professional sport came with the Suns in the AFLW, said.
Australia’s swimmers collected a record 25 medals at Japan’s world championships in July.
But, with a short turnaround to Paris in mind, a squad about half the size and missing most of its stars will compete at the next global titles in Doha in February.
“You can only peak once,” Levi said.
“We’ve had a bit of a trial peak and we’ll go back to grinding hard and hopefully peak for the Olympics.
“We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board after two successful weekends.
“The hard work doesn’t stop here.”
A knee injury suffered in Cape Town threatens to derail the Games campaign of veteran Demi Hayes.
But, again resisting overtures from AFLW and NRLW to sign with Rugby Australia until 2026, the Levis have added more strings to the bow of a side still powered by Charlotte Caslick and the evergreen Sharni Williams.
“I’ve known her potential all along and she can be an integral part of that team,” Maddison said of sister Teagan.
“For her to come out of her shell … she’ll take the team to another level with her attacking style and eagerness in defence.
“She’ll take on anyone … still got a lot to bring to the table and it’s exciting with the confidence she’s got now that she can take us to hopefully a gold medal in Paris.”
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