Olympic dream the pinnacle for SBW

2016-05-12 09:00
Sonny Bill Williams (Getty Images)

Paris - Sonny Bill Williams may have won a myriad of titles in rugby union and rugby league but the New Zealand superstar says becoming an Olympian would top everything.

Williams will be part of the New Zealand squad at the Paris Sevens World Series event this weekend.

Although widely considered one of the great polyvalent rugby stars of his generation, he still needs to earn his spot on the flight to Rio, but the 30-year-old claims that just taking part in the Games would be a dream come true.

"Coming from New Zealand, we're so fixated on rugby union - rugby union's our number one sport," he said.

"Everyone's fixated on the All Blacks and I actually had to take a step away from that and think about what it means to be a sportsman and how big this opportunity was - and it blows it away.

"It blew my mind away, the opportunity to go and play at the Olympics, to be called an Olympian. It's not just about trying to win a medal but to be able to say you're an Olympian: that supercedes everything, I believe.

"Time will tell if I can make that squad but I'm definitely doing all I can to try to fulfil that dream."

Williams has won the World Cup with the All Blacks twice, he's won both the Super Rugby title with Chiefs and The Rugby Championship with New Zealand.

In Rugby League he won the NRL twice, with the Bulldogs in 2004 and Roosters in 2013, while Williams also triumphed in all seven of his professional heavyweight boxing bouts, even winning the New Zealand title in 2012.

Yet he's not the only successful and talented athlete in his family.

Sister Niall is part of the New Zealand women's sevens team and could also play at the Rio Games.

"We've spoken about it, I know that if I didn't make and she didn't make it our family would still be proud of both of us for being able to play for New Zealand sevens. But it would be an amazing achievement for both the siblings to go to the Olympics together," said Williams.

"We're very proud of her and I'm very proud of her to see that she's a mother of two and to come back and she's one of the fittest in the side.

"She's trained her butt off and she's played really, really well the last two tournaments, and hence the reason she got a lot of game time."

Niall Williams used to captain the New Zealand women's touch team - a form of non-contact rugby - so like her older brother, is a code-swapping international star.

"It's just opportunities, the opportunities have come up. She's had the opportunity to have a crack at sevens and she's said 'why not', and I've done the same."

What excites Williams the most about the prospect of taking part in the Olympics, though, is the ability to follow in the footsteps of his, perhaps unexpected, sporting hero: 'The Louisville Lip' and self-styled 'The Greatest', Muhammad Ali.

"When I think of Olympics I think of him; when I think of great sportsmen I definitely think of Ali," said Williams.

"He was such a great sportsman, the way he came back after winning the gold medal and the way his career panned out after he wasn't allowed to box for five years.

"Coming back and the odds were stacked against him to rise up and win against George Foreman was special. When I think who's my favourite sportsman, the greatest sportsman ever to live was definitely Ali."

Read more on:    sonny bill williams  |  rugby


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