Tiana Penitani is the standout name in a squad of 22 young women named by the Australian Rugby Union to begin preparations for Rugby Sevens’ debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, next year.
Penitani has already played for the Australia on the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series and was one of the stars of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow, scoring six tries before suffering a knee injury in the quarter-final loss to Spain.
The 17-year-old, along with another New South Wales’ representative Brooke Anderson, had previously helped Australia win gold at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in January 2013 after beating China in the final.
The squad will attend a series of training camps at Narrabeen in preparation for the Games, which will take place from 16-28 August 2014, with the first camp getting underway at the end of January.
The Youth Olympic Games' training camps form an important part of Australian rugby's Pathway to Gold – a long-term high performance programme managed by the Australian Rugby Union to drive Rugby Sevens' success in the Olympic programme.
Full-time ARU High Performance coaches and managers, including senior coaching staff, will coordinate the camps for the Australian Youth Olympic team over the coming months.
The initial selection will be reduced to a final squad in early May when further preparation camps and pre-Games training will continue in July and August ahead of the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.
Australian Youth Olympic Games training squad
Jasmin Allende, Brooke Anderson, Mariola Belessis, Salote Cavuliati, Shenae Ciesiolka, Dominique Du Toit, Kellie Gibson, Eva Karpani, Akeisha Kelly, Alison Kimberley, Rebeka Lally, Ema Masi, Raecene McGregor, Caitlin Moran, Tiana Penitani, Amber Pilley, Maddy Phelps, Georgie Rackemann, Mackenzie Sadler, Taylor Stanford, Taia Stowers, Laurie Waldie.
Player Quotes of Support
“More than anything, Sevens embodies the Olympic ideals of camaraderie, fair play and respect on and off the field of play.” – Shane Williams, Wales
“You play sport at the highest level to challenge yourself to be the best that you can possibly be and to compete with the best from all over the world, and what better stage to do that on than at the Olympics?” – Sue Day, England
“Going to the Commonwealth Games was amazing and to have the chance to go to the Olympics would be right up there with anything you could possibly dream of doing in sport.” – Tamati Ellison, New Zealand
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- 20 August - Heather Moyse on the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing
- 20 August - An emotional Dom du Toit on Australia's victory at the Youth Olympic Games
- 20 August - France captain Alex Arrate and coach Thierry Janeczeck on winning the men's event at the Youth Olympic Games