Blenheim’s Nicholas ready to represent Canada in Tokyo

Breanne Nicholas at the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens in Langford, BC 2019. (Photo by Chris Wilson, courtesy of Rugby Canada)

Breanne Nicholas is getting ready to make her Olympic debut.

The 27-year-old grew up in Blenheim and is a part of Canada’s women’s rugby sevens team.

Breanne Nicholas at the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens in Langford, BC 2019. (Photo by Chris Wilson, courtesy of Rugby Canada)

Nicholas now lives and trains in Victoria B.C. and is looking forward to playing in her first Olympics.

“I’m trying to view it as just like any other tournament, so like you don’t put too much pressure on it,” said Nicholas. “But I feel like it will hit me more when I’m there and I’m around all the hype.”

Nicholas found out she made the Olympic team from a phone call.

“Yeah, I was happy when I heard the news. Obviously, it’s also bittersweet because you know some teammates aren’t going to be hearing the same stuff, but ya, inside, you’re relieved and happy.”

She started playing rugby in high school, then played two years at Western University before moving to B.C. to train full-time in 2015.

Breanne Nicholas at the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens in Langford, BC 2019. (Photo by Chris Wilson, courtesy of Rugby Canada)

The Olympics wasn’t always the goal for Nicholas. When she was growing up, she just wanted to be a professional athlete.

“Once I was going that route of sevens rugby and I realized it was in the Olympics, then it’s like ya, that’s a goal to go to the Olympics also cause it’s part of the sport.”

Sevens rugby is a shorter and faster version of the game, and Nicholas likes their chances of winning a medal.

“I think we’re definitely medal contenders. If we show up and do what we can, then I can see up being on the podium.”

COVID-19 had an impact on training for Nicholas and the team. Canada qualified for the games back in 2019, but the team has only played in one tournament since January of 2020.

“When COVID was more prominent and restrictions were more strict, we were doing a lot of “on our own” training, so it’s a lot more running and less rugby-type stuff, and working out on our own,” said Nicholas. “Since we’ve been able to get back together, there’s still restrictions, but it’s just smaller groups.”

The team plays their first two games on Thursday, July 29th against Brazil and Fiji, then one more game on the 30th against France. How they do in their pool will determine who and who they play after that.