Traveling to Japan was a big long slog for the USA 7s teams getting ready for the Olympics, but they’ve made it.
The trip from San Diego to LA to Seoul (where they took COVID tests) to Tokyo and then on the Mimasaka took 36 hours. Grueling, for sure, but worth it.
A Warm Welcome
“Considering everything, it actually went quite smoothly,” said Brett Thompson. “I’m sure it was a logistical nightmare, but we got here and our training pitch is beautiful and our gym is perfect—we couldn’t ask for more.”
As captain Madison Hughes was keeping an eye on the team and how they were feeling, and he was happy with what he saw.
“The guys did a really good job of focusing on what we could control during the travel,” he said. “They stayed positive throughout and now it’s about getting dialed in and used to the local time zone and climate.”
“A lot of it was sitting around waiting for tests to come back,” added Danny Barrett. The COVID tests all came back negative and so they moved on to the next thing. Having heard the horror stories, such as South Africa having to go into quarantine because someone not on the team, but who was on their flight, tested positive, they were grateful to get the all-clear.
“We’ve been under pretty strict orders to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to be able to compete,” said Barrett. “Once we got on the ground it’s business as usual. Get in the gym, ride the bike a little bit, lift a bit of weight; get out on the field kind of get moving again, get a ball back in your hands.”
The biggest worry? Food. Would the food be what they’re used to. This topic has cropped up now and then with the team, as nutrition is a big part of their training, and if it gets changed up sometimes that throws off the players. All good in Mimasaka, where the players had only praise for the USOPC staff and their hotel staff for making their stay easy.
36 hours to arrive in Mimasaka with some lengthy Covid protocols and processes but the Dawgs have landed!
— Mike Friday (@MikeFriday09) July 16, 2021
So Who Are They Worried About?
Worried? No one. Focused on? Well, there’s that first game.
“Kenya,” said Hughes. “The first game is the big one for me. That’s where it went wrong for us in Rio. We can’t really overlook that first one because if we don’t get the job done there, it becomes pretty difficult.”
We’re taking it like any tournament
And although there’s been no World Series for over a year, there have been 7s tournaments, and, Barrett pointed out, “we saw Ireland in the UK, we saw Kenya out in Spain, and those are two important games. We’ll worry about South Africa once we get through Kenya and Ireland. We are focusing on them and what they do and what we can do to counteract, but we’re also focusing on ourselves—what do we need to work on, what do we need to freshen up, what do we need to continue to get batter at, and what do we need to hone in our skills.”
“We believe when we focus on ourselves and we’re performing at the top of our game and doing what we need to do we can perform with anyone.”
USA Men’s Olympic 7s Schedule:
USA vs Kenya —Eastern Time 10:30pm July 25
USA vs Ireland—Eastern Time 5:30am July 26
USA vs South Africa — Eastern Time 10:30pm July 26
Knockout Rounds begin at 5:00am Eastern Time