Sevens skipper Mitchell leads Mid Sussex charge for Olympic glory in Tokyo

Rugby sevens skipper Tom Mitchell says he will take time to saviour his Team GB experience having already tasted one bruising Olympic final defeat.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 1:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 1:04 pm
Tom Mitchell leads the GB's quest for men's rugby sevens glory in Tokyo / Picture: Getty
Tom Mitchell leads the GB's quest for men's rugby sevens glory in Tokyo / Picture: Getty

Cuckfield-born Mitchell, skipper in Britain’s crushing 43-7 defeat against Fiji five years ago, is at peace with the result and will have a fresh perspective on the sport going into Tokyo.

The 31 year-old, who went to Worth School in Crawley, now wants to add to the silver medal and the Games memories he made in Rio.

“We have some lessons from then to carry this time around. Particularly around savouring the moment,” said Mitchell, whose exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

Ellie Rayer of EGHC is in the GB hockey squad

“That has been reinforced by the fact we have not been able to play our sport as much over the last year or so, and spend that much time together as a group.

“I will never forget Rio, it was an incredible experience.

“I was devastated during that (2016) final against Fiji, it was a great shot at a gold medal, and it was tough.

“But at the end of that game, about seven minutes or so after, I was kind of at peace with it. The silver marked an amazing achievement for that group.

Laura Unsworth is becoming something of an Olympic veteran

“Like any athlete, you set out to achieve a gold medal, but this time around we have gone through similar challenges.”

Mitchell is one the most experienced sevens players in international rugby.

As well as leading the team to that silver in 2016, he has also won a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, and silver at the World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.

Despite a tough injury lay-off, which saw him miss the start of the 2019 season, he has bounced back to once again lead the British charge in Tokyo.

Mitchell also won’t let the pandemic-enforced differences to this year’s Games impacted on his mindset or his leadership of the team.

He said: “It is undoubtedly going to be a different experience this year. I think we are all prepared for that.

“There is no point trying to compare this games to others previous and in that sense I think it is special.

“In a strange way that makes me look forward to it even more, because it will be unique.

“It comes with a different challenge. But if you ask anyone about running out in the GB shirt with the lion on the chest, they will all say they will have exactly the same passion and intensity as ever.”

Sevens caught the imagination of the public five years ago, especially with Team GB coming so close to taking top spot on the sport’s Olympic debut.

Mitchell urged the British public not to bet against his side to go one better in Japan.

He added: “Seeing what it meant to people five years ago, and not only rugby fans but people who just love the Olympics, made me realise how special it is to be a part of.

“There is a fire in this group and a motivation that has been strengthened. So we are in a very strong place.”

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+

HOCKEY CALL-UP

The GB women’s hockey squad includes three East Grinstead HC players.

Ellie Rayer, 24, who has a total of 58 GB and England caps to her name, is in the line-up announced at the end of last week, along with Laura Unsworth, 33, whose 276 caps comprise 126 GB appearances and 150 for England.

For Unsworth, this will be a third Oympics.

One of the women’s reserves is their EG teammate Amy Costello, 23, who has 88 caps.