Green Machine and tough Turner fire Australia's women

Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:07pm EDT
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By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The paths taken by athletes to the Rio Olympics are many and varied but few have been shorter or more providential than that of rugby sevens speedster Ellia Green.

Four years after giving her cousin a lift to open tryouts for the sevens program in Melbourne, the former track sprinter is in Rio with an Australia team looking to add Olympic gold to the world crown they won earlier this year.

The 23-year-old's flowing braids, bubbly personality and infectious smile are distinctive enough but what really sets her apart is searing pace.

"She's probably the fastest runner in world series women's rugby... and she certainly sets the field on fire," coach Tim Walsh told Reuters before the squad departed for Brazil.

"Ellia provides us with that X-factor and that speed which is priceless in the game of sevens."

But for her cousin persuading her first to drive her to the trials, and then to take part, Green would probably still be pursuing her dream of becoming Australia's first sprint champion since Betty Cuthbert at the 1956 Olympics.

"She was really keen to go and I wasn't that keen as I didn't know the rules and was very focused on my track and field," Green recalled.

"I drove her there and... three months later I was taken to my first world series in Houston. It happened really quickly and it wasn't something I had planned.   Continued...

Members of the Australian Women's rugby sevens Olympic team Ellia Green (L) and Amy Turner embrace after a team training session in Sydney, Australia, July 22, 2016. Picture taken July 22, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray