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Sevens: Curry chases golden dream

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PUSHING HARD: Papamoa resident Scott Curry in action at All Blacks Sevens training at Blake Park.
PUSHING HARD: Papamoa resident Scott Curry in action at All Blacks Sevens training at Blake Park.

Today the Bay of Plenty Times begins a series profiling local Olympians preparing for the Rio Games in August.

When 5-year-old Scott Curry picked up a rugby ball for the first time, playing barefoot in the Rotorua frost, he could only dream of playing in the Olympics.

But fast-forward 23 years and with Rio 2016 marking the debut of rugby sevens in the Olympics, Curry is eagerly anticipating the final 12-man New Zealand sevens squad selection for the Rio Olympics at the side's Mount Maunganui camp next week.

The 28-year-old former Reporoa College student has been a regular member of the All Blacks Sevens since making his debut in Dubai in 2010.

He says he has had to train hard to get back into Olympic contention, after recovering from shoulder surgery in December during the recent Sevens World Series, during which he captained the side until his injury.

"It's the dream of any athlete to compete at the highest level of sport so I've been working really hard to be in the best possible shape to be selected for Rio," Curry said.

"I want to captain my side on the greatest stage of all but I'm fully aware of how tough the competition is for a place and the skipper's armband.

"This is the year sevens is really going to be showcased and I want to be a part of the team to help raise the profile of the sport."

Curry, who has won four Sevens World Series with New Zealand, owns a home in Papamoa.

He and the All Blacks Sevens team train at three hubs around the country based in Auckland, Waikato and Tauranga, preparing to win a gold medal at their first attempt.

"We want to win gold and we'll need the best possible team to realise that goal. I hope I can play my part in making sevens history," he said.

The All Blacks Sevens have not had ideal preparation going into selection with 2016 Sevens World Series defeats in both Paris and London at the quarter-final stage and Fiji winning the overall crown for the second year in a row.

"Fiji are certainly the ones to watch.

"They are very efficient and tough and in the last tournaments we haven't been up to standard," he said. "It will be very hard to get the gold because I actually think there are six or seven teams that could take it if they perform at their best level.

"South Africa will almost certainly be in the mix but if everything clicks for us then we can make history for the sport, the Olympics and New Zealand."

Curry said a resonating memory he had from the Olympics was when cyclist Sarah Ulmer fell off her bike after winning gold in the 3km individual pursuit at the 2004 Athens Olympics, having set a world record and becoming the first New Zealander to win an Olympic cycling gold medal.

"That one moment really stood out. Seeing her fall off because she had given so much effort was inspiring to me as a young boy," he said.

"She gave absolutely everything and that is what you have to do as an athlete. I have always taken that memory with me and I make sure to leave everything on the field."

The former Manawatu Turbos player has plenty of supporters, with parents Philip and Judy and his three younger brothers Adrian, 26, Sean, 24, and Logan, 22, all hoping for his selection.

And Curry said he owed much to his family and in particular his three younger siblings, who have always been "extremely competitive" among one another.

"My brothers constantly pushed me growing up and I put a lot of success down to them," he said.

"We are competitive about absolutely everything, whether it was on the rugby field or holding our breath under water. And they still help me now, spurring me on in training drills we do with each other and fully supporting my career."

The final 12-man New Zealand sevens squad will fly to Florida at the end of July for an intensive training camp and acclimatising before travelling to Rio 10 days before the Olympics start.

"The Olympics is the pinnacle of world sport and the side will certainly be ready to go and compete for that gold medal. We will give it the best shot we can."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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