I returned home from America a month ago now. We had a fantastic 3 months training and racing on the road, but it is always such an exciting feeling to land back on home soil.
Even more so this time with the country buzzing with Rugby World Cup fever. It was bizzare to have missed the gradual build-up to it all and be dumped amongst it one week into competition. And now we are at the business end, one more big game to play!
In my Otago uni days I was an avid rugby supporter but I have to confess to drifting away from it over the past few years. But you couldn't help but jump back on the 'rugby wagon' and get amongst the party. Who would have thought I'd be heading along to our brand new Dunedin stadium to support Romania in their battle against England, and then march with hundreds of others to the Town Hall Fan Zone to watch our mighty All Blacks.
Look what this Rugby World Cup has done to our nation - it lifts us up and pulls people together, something so special and unique that only sport can do. Watching the semi final last weekend with my family my youngest sister declared she was full of nerves. "Really?" I said. And she replied, "Yeah whenever you race overseas I'm a nervous wreck. I had to hide behind the couch when you raced the Commonwealth Games!" I thought this was all pretty funny, but later found myself with a few butterflies, screaming at the tv, and throwing my arms in the air as we stormed over the Aussies.
That's what I love about sport. It has the ability to touch everyone, an entire country, the Olympic World. It draws you in, the Commonwealth Games last year, the Rugby World Cup now and next year the london Olympics. As an athlete it's so exciting to see throughout this RWC how the county reacts to great sporting moments. For the past few years I've been smack bang in the middle of our big sports events, it's a different perspective. So to stand back and get an outside view and get behind our All Blacks has been very inspiring.
I told my family the RWC final this weekend is their training run for the Olympics. So come London next year when we are lining up on that startline, they will be glued to the tv (and maybe my sister if her nerves let her get out from behind the couch!!) and I know they will be screaming for us from the other side of the world. It's this kind of support that deep down gives us that extra kiwi edge. Knowing everyone is behind you, willing you on, something more comes from inside you and you push harder than you ever thought possible. Its the kind of feeling that doesn't often happen, it's hard to find but it's so so powerful it's worth saving for the big ones. When wearing the black suit & knowing you have given everything for your teammates, for everyone back home on the couches and for yourself, that's when I'm so proud to be Kiwi.
Then.....and when we win the RWC!!! Go the All Blacks!