Sharni Williams has already etched her name into the annals of Australian sport’s history after co-captaining the Australia women’s 7s team to a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics five years ago.
Since then, Williams and the Australian team have continued to be a force in world rugby, with the Batlow product leading Australia to a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia and numerous other world titles along the way.
After making her Australian rugby debut way back in 2008, the 32-year-old is likely gearing up for one of, if not her last international campaign, when her Australian side looks to defend their gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that officially kicked today.
It has been a long and successful path to the Olympics for Williams, with the local sporting prodigy having left Batlow as a fledgling hockey player before getting a taste for rugby and soon becoming one of the best players in the world.
While all eyes will be on Australia and their quest to win back-to-back gold medals, Williams will no doubt do her best for her country, while continuing to be a brilliant role model for young female athletes all over the country.
Williams recently took some time to look back on her stellar career, recalling the early days in Batlow, well before she and other female athletes were household names.
“I was a little country kid that grew up with 1500 people,” Williams said.
“We didn’t know about a lot of female athletes because of the news and the media not being asked to pick up those stories and it actually not being okay that women played rugby.”
The women’s rugby star has since focused her attention on giving country girls the best possible example to follow, offering advice wherever possible and continually proving that women from regional areas can excel as the highest level.
“For that now to be changed, and to think that you’re leading the way, and everything you do, they are going to follow, I think I pinch myself every time,” Williams said.
“Every time to think that a little girl looks up to you and goes wow, like what you’re doing is amazing and all I think is, ‘I’m just Sharni, I’m just doing what I love and at the end of the day, I’m just a human being as well’.
“That young kid can be here if they put in the time and hard work and have the support around them.”
With the Olympics officially commencing this morning with the Opening Ceremony, there is no doubting millions of boys and girls will be watching on as Williams and her Australian team kick off their campaign on Thursday.
First up Australia face Japan before taking on China later on Thursday before a final pool game against America early on Friday.
If successful in the pool round, Australia will then play quarter final rugby on the Friday evening before semi-finals and finals are played next Saturday.
Key days and times
Thursday 11.30pm: Australia v Japan.
Thursday 6.30pm: Australia v China.
Friday 11.30am: Australia v America.