BE YOUR BEST PERSONAL TRAINING CARDIFF
BE YOUR BEST WITH.....JASMINE JOYCE
I'm delighted that my first guest as part of the series 'Be Your Best With.....' is Jasmine Joyce. Jasmine shot to fame in the summer, being the sole Welsh representative in Team GB's Women's Rugby Sevens Squad. Jasmine made an immediate impact, scoring a try within seconds of her first appearance. She ended the tournament with two tries to her name, and came agonisingly close to a bronze medal. I was honoured to be joined by Jasmine to chat about her journey, which you can find below.
Hi Jaz. First of all, congratulations on the Olympics, it was amazing to see you carrying the Welsh flag and having such an amazing performance. Can you just tell me, how did your selection come about, being the only Welsh girl in the middle an otherwise England squad?
It started from me playing for Wales and getting involved playing in places like Dubai, Russia, France and Ireland. After our tournament in Ireland, two of us Welsh girls got selected, both myself and Laurie Harries. We were firstly offered a three month contract to go and live in London and train professionally with the England girls which were the team who qualified us as Team GB to compete in Rio. When the three months was up, we had a tournament in Dubai to show what we had learned and to see if we were in contention to be part of the squad that goes to Rio. When we got back from Dubai we sat down with our team manager for Wales who was Caroline Spanton at the time, and she was the one who would make the call to see if we would get the opportunity to carry on and fight for a place in the final 12 who would jet off to Rio. Luckily enough, both Laurie Harries and myself had the nod to say we had the opportunity to carry on competing and being professional up in London. Then I was up there for the whole year, competing in competitions and training flat out. Selection was so close between every individual and you had to be constantly performing well as everyone was pushing each other. Simon Middleton had a hard choice to make when selecting the squad. On the 24th of June we were expecting an email at seven on the dot, and we did indeed receive the email at seven with the attachment 'Squad for Rio'. It was the most nervous and exciting email I have ever opened in my whole entire life. I went on to open this email and the attachment and there was my name on the team sheet, I didn't know what to do with myself, I wanted to cry but I was the happiest girl ever, so many different emotions going through my head. It was a dream come true that I would be going to an Olympic Games and all the hard work from the last year had paid off.
I reckon I would have cried! Leading up to the Olympics, how did life change for you? I presume you had to put uni to one side for that year? Also, how did you find the adaption to professional rugby and training full time?
Leading up to the Olympics, I had to defer my second year of uni so I could purely concentrate on getting the most out of being professional and doing everything I could to be in that 12 to go to Rio. I loved training pretty much every day and then having the evenings to chill out and prepare for the next day. Of course it was hard but that's what it's going to be like when you're training for the Olympics.
So, leading up to Rio, once the squad had been selected and you knew you were on the plane, what was life like inside the training camp? What would a typical day consist of?
It was quite tense as the training squad was still a squad of 28 ish players. Everyone was supportive though, whether you had been selected or not. Days would still be exactly the same, training Monday to Friday, and still intense until a couple of weeks before we flew.
How much specific gym training did you have to do in the lead up, and what exercises were the main ones you had to concentrate on?
We would have two or three weights programmes a week, depending on if we had competitions coming up. There wasn't really main exercises to concentrate on, they are all as important as each other.
How did the training change once you were in Rio?
We tapered down and focused on specific plays and getting used to the heat out there. It's a lot different training in British weather to then going to compete in boiling hot weather. We got some training in this weather, such as when we went to Dubai.
I bet it was really hard to get used to?! So, was it more concentrated on adapting to the heat and tactics, more than hard gym sessions etc?
Yes, that was exactly it. We had already done the hard work of getting fit and ready for the physicality, now we just focused on team play.
Some days you would have to play two or three games a day. What was the routine like in terms of recovery/meals etc. on those days?
Yeah, some days we would be playing three games a day. This was hard as you don't get too hungry between games but you need to eat to refuel your body. We needed to make sure we got protein back in to our bodies and recover well after every game. We would leg drain after every game and rest up as much as we could.
Did you have time to go back to your rooms and have a proper rest, or did you have to wait around and do best as you could?
No, where our tournament was, it was a long drive back to our rooms in the hotel, so we would chill and rest up in a 'relax room' somewhere in the ground.
You scored a try with your first ever touch of the ball in an Olympic Games. What was going through your head when you were running through for that try?
When I knew I had scored the try, there was so much going through my head, I just jumped up and all the girls came running in. I can just remember thinking "I've just scored in an Olympics game".
That must have been an unbelievable feeling. And then you went on to score again in the bronze medal match! That must have been quite a bitter sweet moment?
That was also amazing and for me, both my first and last touches of the Olympics, I scored. To be able to say that is something that not many people can say. I loved every single moment of it.
I really enjoyed the sevens in the Olympics and thought it was an amazing inclusion. Which do you prefer, 7's or 15's, both from a playing point of view, as well as being a spectator?
I much prefer sevens for both playing and watching as it's much more of an exciting game. Sevens is more suited to the way I play rugby and I'm able to use my strengths more within the sevens game, such as my speed and fitness. I prefer watching sevens too, but 15's is also a very exciting game, especially with the Six Nations and World Cup.
I agree that it's much more exciting to watch too, so I'm glad you said that. How has life changed for you now that you've returned as an Olympian?
Life as itself hasn't changed that much, I've gone back to uni now and studying my second year, so back down to reality now. I have a lot more media and activities going on now, and more photo shoots and things like that than before I went to Rio. I get noticed a lot more around the streets and walking down to my local shop should take five minutes, but I don't get back to the house for a good 30 minutes. My parents wonder where I have gone.
Haha, amazing. I saw on twitter that you scored an impressive hat-trick of tries for Cardiff Met a couple of weeks ago, so you've obviously taken your Olympic form in to the new season. Do you find that any of your team mates and/or opposition treat you differently now?
No, they don't treat me any differently, it's just like I had never gone away.
How about the opposition? Do you find they target you more as a danger player now?
I'm not sure really, I just concentrate on playing my game, and focus on our team performance.
Where do you see yourself in the coming years? Are your sights now firmly set on Tokyo (Olympics 2020)?
My end goal is to be there in Tokyo, but there is a lot going on before that, in both the 15's and sevens, such as Six Nations and World Cup for 15's, and Commonwealth Games and World Cup for Sevens. So I would like to be involved in each of these events.
And finally, which do you prefer, cats or dogs?
I certainly prefer dogs, they are much more cuddly.
It was a privilege to be able to start this series interviewing an Olympian and getting a real insight in to life in the Olympics. Jaz's enthusiasm for her sport is to be admired, and we at Be Your Best Personal Training wish her the very best in her future career.