As the Tokyo Olympics kick off later this month, one local student will be doing her part for team Canada.
Julia Greenshields is studying a bachelor of sport and fitness at Camosun College and is also a member of the Canadian women’s national rugby sevens team.
“I don’t know if it’s hit me yet—I’m anxious and nervous and excited and focussed on training like we always do,” says Greenshields.
“I think the reality of it all will set in when we’re all actually at the airport.”
Greenshields grew up in Sarnia, Ontario. While attending high school there, she was given the opportunity to attend a class field trip to North Carolina — provided she joined the rugby team.
“I was told I had to play rugby, and I didn’t even know what that was, but I said ‘sign me up, let’s play rugby then’ because I really wanted to go to North Carolina!”
The trip ignited an interest in the sport for Greenshields, and she later moved to B.C. to train for 10 years with the national rugby team in Victoria.
When the pandemic hit, she elected to enroll in classes while most athletic activities were curtailed.
“When the pandemic happened, I thought, I really need to get back to school,” Greenshields says.
“I need to focus on getting my education and preparing for what’s next in life, after rugby.”
With the Olympics now scheduled, she’ll be flying to Tokyo to compete on the world stage.
COVID-19 protocols will remain in place, including banning spectators, but the rugby star is prepared for that change.
“One thing we prepare for when going into international competition is to anticipate that the crowd is going to be really really loud, and not letting that become a distraction, so it will be very interesting to be in a completely quiet stadium,” explains Greenshields.
“What I’m most disappointed about is that my family won’t be able to come with me and be there to watch, but I do hope to continue and compete in the next Olympics in Paris and I’ve told them—you’re going to come and watch me play then!”
The Women’s Rugby Sevens pool is set to kick off on Thursday, July 29. In Pacific Standard Time (Victoria local time), Team Canada will be taking to the field for their first game at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28.
Matches will continue until July 31, with the gold medal match airing in local time at 2 a.m. on Friday, July 30.