Despite being one of the fastest players in today’s 7s rugby game, English Rugby 7s player Dan Norton, 28, doesn’t think he can hold his own against Bolt, the “World’s Fastest Man” – whom he looks up to and respects for his achievements.
This is despite Norton clocking a time of 2.70 secs for 20 metres from a standing start while carrying a rugby ball… this is 0.19 secs faster than Bolt had achieved on his world record-breaking 100 sprint at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
Said Norton, “It is nice to be compared to Bolt… but he has got me on this one! There are some real quick guys in rugby 7s and every team has a fast guy… that is my job in the England team… but though Rugby 7s players may be quite fast, it’s hard to compare us to those in athletics. They are built for running but we are built for changing direction, evasion and agility.”
He added, “We generally do speed training two times a week with four weights sessions. Weights are important to strengthen the legs… that is the same for everyone; if you want to get fast you have to have strong legs.”
Amazing to come face to face with sports superstars
But nevertheless, meeting and coming face-to-face with the likes of not only Bolt, but also other sporting superstars like Mo Farah and Serena Williams had been an “amazing” experience for at the recent Olympics – and he admitted that he had been star-struck by it.
Said Norton, “It was amazing to rub shoulders and share space with superstars like Usain Bolt, Serena Williams and her sister, and Andy Murray, and athletes from all these cross codes of sports.”
He added, “It’s like, I could share a lift with Mo Farah and go to the food hall and see Bolt talking to a crowd in the corner. Everyone whom I would practically see on television was there – and I had been living it for those three weeks in August.”
Nevertheless, Norton admitted that he had given the Olympic superstars some space though – instead of clamouring for autographs like what most star-struck people would probably do, when faced with their idols.
Said Norton “I felt like I was under pressure. I wanted to speak to them, but then again they would be getting requests from hundreds of people all the time, so I decided to give them some space.”
The debut of rugby 7s in the Olympic Games
This year’s Olympic Games tournament in Rio, had marked the debut of the rugby 7s tournament, and Norton had scored the only try for his team – to help Great Britain win the silver medal. They had lost to Fiji in the final, 43 points to 7.
Playing in the Olympics and winning the silver had been surreal for Norton who admitted that he had never expected to be playing in the Olympics. He said “When I was growing up I never expected to represent my country at the Olympics, so I felt privileged to get selected in the first place and represent Great Britain.”
He added, “It felt really special and it was a dream come true. I had my family there to witness and support me too, and that was amazing and something that we could all be proud of.”
Norton is in Singapore to work with grassroots rugby
Norton is currently in Singapore to work with grassroots rugby and Singapore Rugby Union, under the invite of Singapore’s largest fitness community UFIT Urban Fitness (UFIT). He leaves Singapore this Thursday.
He had been speaking to members of the local media on the sidelines of a grassroots rugby clinic taking place at the Australian International School in Singapore earlier this week.
Founded by former England rugby star James Forrester, UFIT and its new specialist division, UFIT Sports Education, had been formed to meet the growing demand from Singapore sporting, (and increasingly) business personnel to improve their sporting or business performance by the scientific application of personal fitness, nutrition and understanding of life style choice, whether on the sports field or in the business environment.
Has his sights again on the World rugby 7s
Now that the Olympics is done and dusted, Norton has his immediate sights once again on the World rugby 7s which resumes again on 2 December in Dubai. But he feels that the Olympics has improved the image and reputation of rugby 7s as a whole.
Said Norton “Coming off the Olympics, the whole game of 7s has improved and taken a leap forward; we have amazing following from people including those here in Singapore. We are also quite excited by it and it’s good to get out there and do what we all enjoy doing again, after the post Olympics break.”
Has his eye set on Injera’s all time try record
Further out though, Norton secretly has his eye on Collins Injera’s all-time try record.
The top tries scorer during the 2012-13 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with an England record of 52 tries, Norton is presently fourth on the Series’ list of all-time top scorers with 210 tries and 1,064 points in 57 events. Injera is presently the leader with 231 touchdowns.
But said Norton, “My present goal is to catch Collin’s try record; he is still playing and freely scoring tries though so it will be competitive. But I am really happy to get as far as I have and am looking at continuously improving on my game.”
Catch Norton in action
If you are keen to catch Norton in action, you can see him at the 2017 HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens.
This will take place Apr 15-16 next year at the National Stadium.
Visit www.singaporerugby.com today and sign up as a “Gold Member” under the “Friends of Singapore Rugby” supporters scheme to enjoy incentives and discounts on pre-sale tickets (Platinum & Premium) for the 2017 Singapore Sevens (terms & conditions apply).