“When I was younger I got beat, so I told myself I’d never get beat again”
Image Credit- Mike Alvarez/ Rugby Nation
Whether he ever thought he’d reach the sporting heights that he now has. . .
"It wasn’t a shocker to me, because I have worked hard since I was a kid, but for it to unfold the way it did was phenomenal. "
What he puts his success down to . . .
“I am very driven, I am a very driven person and also God has been tremendously good to me as well, and my focus through hardships and hard times. For me, I learned to rely on my faith in God because at times when you need people, you realise that they aren’t always going to be there. I’ve always relied on self and I push myself to be the best that I can be, I did stuff when I was younger that was all about instilling good habits. So as things go on in life, it’s second nature, so for me I build good habits.”
How much a tough start in life gave him determination . . .
“Yeah, the character building for me was everything, it was different because usually people in the same shoes as me don’t make it as far. But I knew what I wanted to be and I knew that I didn’t want to be. Both of those boil down to choices. You can choose to work hard, you can choose to give in, you can choose to quit, you can choose to make excuses, you can choose to blame people, but I knew that at the end of the day this was all going to boil down to me and I would have to look at myself in the mirror everyday. Whether my dreams came true or they didn’t, I would have to live with it. I knew that I didn’t want to disappoint.”
Learning to play the game of Rugby . . .
“I just got ball on the outside and just tried to score, that’s how it went. I really didn’t know much about reading the game, seeing pictures, it was just about getting the ball and trying to outrun them. As I got going I had more understanding of the game, but at the beginning it was just to get the ball and go.”
His big year, playing in the World Cup Sevens on home soil in the US . . .
“It was special, any time that you get to play in front of your home crowd, home country is always a blessing and a treat. I didn’t think too much about it but to have it in the US was a gift, it was amazing.”
Being the fastest player in world rugby . . .
“I’m holding the pace crown, I’m a big speed guy so I love running fast and I do not like to lose. When I was younger I got beat and I told myself that I would never get beat again by those guys. I just worked my butt off, you have no idea. Ever since I was younger when it comes to running fast, I could have a degree in it! I understand bio-mechanics, I understand force and mechanisms, what you need to do in the gym, what you need to do on the track, how you are supposed to move. I understand all of that, so for me the more I understood, the faster I got. It’s God-given talent but I had to tap into it a lot more to unleash it. That was my goal. I always want to hold that title and it’s part of my identity.”
Whether rugby sevens can become as big worldwide as union?
“Yeah every year it is getting bigger, it’s growing. Even from when I started to now and I think it’s only going to keep getting bigger and bigger, the more media and popularity it gets. It’s taken off.”
Getting America to fall in love with rugby . . .
“Fifteens is alright, it’s a long game but sevens is much shorter and it’s fast-paced, exciting. People have a short attention span anyway! But even for the viewers, if you put a game of sevens and fifteens outside, fifteens is just people clashing into each other, but with sevens you see a lot more running over people, off loads, players running fast and it’s more appealing. I love both games but sevens is more exciting to watch and it’s shorter for people.”
Competing at Tokyo 2020 Olympics in both Rugby and 100m . . .
“I’m open to anything, I tried to do it the last time but in the end I had to pick. I never ever thought I’d be playing Rugby, let alone going to an Olympics with that!”
His life message, of making something of yourself, regardless of circumstance . . .
“Yeah a lot of people are stuck in their ways in what they want to do, but if you let God open it up for you then he will take you further than you even expected. You have to have an open mind to stuff, it’s all about your purpose and what you’re doing it for. I’m able to use my gift and show people that if you have faith and work hard, you can do anything that you put your mind to. My main thing was that I wanted to to to the Olympics and I was able to do that. I did it through a different path but I still reaped the same goal and outcome than if I’d done it with track. So I am a witness of what God can do, if you trust him and believe in him. Don’t get set in your ways. Let him take you where he wants you to go because it will be better than what you have for yourself.”
The difference his faith makes . . .
“Without my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t be where I am at today. One, I wouldn’t be saved, two, he wouldn’t be living inside of me, three, what he has for me is better than what I have for myself. So, I wouldn’t have peace, just temporary happiness and everything would be about me, rather than him. Joy is Jesus, others and then yourself and so living for him, allows you to live for others, be caring and be genuine. He turned dirt into a beautiful flower. He can turn anything ugly into beautiful but it takes faith and fully trusting. He changed my life.”