Journey to Tokyo: Rugby player Lauren Doyle aims for spot on Olympics roster, gold

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CHICAGO (KXAN) — Lauren Doyle knew she did not want to run track in college so when she got a packet in the mail all about rugby, she decided to switch gears.

“I was like, ‘Mother, father — I am going to play rugby,” she recalled, laughing.

​The Illinois athlete-turned-USA Women’s Sevens team member and 2016 Olympian didn’t know a thing about the sport when she first started, but she quickly turned heads. 

“Pretty much just got recognized for being fast,” the former track star said, smiling.

Today, she’s aiming for gold all while working to get the sport in front of more eyes. 

“Around the world, it’s quite big almost everywhere else. New Zealand has a huge culture there based solely around rugby,” she explained. “Here in the United States, they’re starting to get the pro leagues off the ground.”

She encourages people to talk with rugby players to learn more about the sport, and to go see a game for themselves. She said reading about something is one thing, but watching it helps people better understand how the game works and how exciting it can be.

Like many athletes, training during a pandemic has come with its challenges.

“We stayed physically fit to a degree but obviously we weren’t getting touches with the rugby ball so that was the suckiest part for me,” Doyle said.

Nonetheless, she remains hopeful, and she’s ready and patiently waiting for her opportunity to shine.

“We all want the Olympics to happen, we all want to follow the rules and be able to participate,” she said.

Doyle said her goal right now is to make the Team USA’s women’s rugby roster. Officials will announce who made the cut this summer. 

This interview was conducted by WGN NewsNation’s Ryan Burrow as part of his Quest for Gold podcast. You can listen HERE.

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