Bay Rugby star’s Olympic triumph

Kelly Brazier in action for the Bay of Plenty Volcanix. Photo. Rick Moran.

The Bay had plenty to celebrate at the recently concluded Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The stellar sisterhood of the Rugby Sevens side was just one of those success stories.

Whilst the team is made up of women from all over New Zealand, the gold medal winning Black Ferns Sevens side are based in Mount Maunganui.

Kelly Brazier was the first to relocate to the Bay of Plenty. The Dunedin-born star first headed north in 2013 and is now based in Pāpāmoa.

Brazier, who fell short of gold with a silver medal in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, says winning the gold medal felt like being “on another planet”.

Being based at the Adams Centre in Mount Maunganui has helped the team develop a bond on the pitch, as well as off of it.

At no point was that more evident in Tokyo than during the semi-final. A fearless Fiji side took New Zealand to extra-time before Gayle Broughton’s try secured a medal.

“We go through a lot of hard times, but those little connections you make they come out in those big moments,” says Brazier.

“I think if we were not centralised, those things wouldn’t happen.

“I can imagine a few people were on the edge of their seat but, to be honest, we train that two or three times a week. So when it came, we just took our chances and Gayle got over the line.”

It was not only on the pitch the Black Ferns Sevens side captured the hearts of the nation. Refreshingly candid post-match interviews from the side, especially Ruby Tui, earned global recognition.

“Rugby is a way of showing that personality for our group,” says Brazier.

“We have some unreal ladies. They all have something special. It’s cool just to see the world falling in love with them, but that is just our girls on a daily basis.”

After the highs of Tokyo, came the calm of a stay in managed isolation for Brazier and her team-mates. Her plans once she is back in the Bay revolve around her family, namely her son Oakley, with this being her longest time away from the toddler.

However, a celebration with her rugby sisters is also in the pipeline.

“There will definitely be a few celebrations,” she admits.

“I think we will get around each other, friends and family, and just celebrate what has been a massive journey.”

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