25 Jul 2016
26th of June during the national anthems. I never thought that during the anthem in the Final of the Olympic Qualifier that I would have a smile written on my face. Normally I am so focused, so mentally active that my face is closed off from emotion and becomes empty; this time I wanted to smile. Smiling at all the spectators, to all our families and friends who had joined us on our journey to Ireland to fight again for the last time, our last chance to achieve our dream.
I visualised this match some time ago, I have played this match many times before in my head, Spain vs Russia, fighting for the match, fighting for the last place. So I came into the match feeling like I had played it a thousand times, but knowing that anything could happen. The lionesses (Las Leonas) played very well that Sunday 26th of June. The defensive pressure turned out to be as effective as planned, in fact, two small defensive mismatches were our only two tests. But we had controlled the match.
We controlled the game time and pace of the match, we could speed it up when we wanted and we could calm it down when we wanted. Each player did her job, it is not a small task, but they were done well. At all times in my head, I was so focused on the task at hand; on my role, how to attack the Russian defence, on the game plan, anticipating where they could hurt us (tactically speaking). During kicks and conversions, it was windy and I had to take this into account. I love those kicks, the ones during the important matches. They are the most difficult to execute, which makes it all the more sweeter having added 7 out of 7. What is really difficult in those crucial moments at a competitive level, is to remain focused on the job that you've worked so hard for. It’s like I always say, and above all what I believe, you can also train the mind and for this part, in recent years, I've trained a lot ... my goal in every practice and game was to be: Mentally Invincible.
26th of June, only a few seconds remaining, I am able to manage the time to make sure that Russia don't get a final chance. Just as the horn sounds signalling the end of the match I kicked the ball out of play with so much force that I almost missed it. The smile returns to my face, I could not stop smiling for days ... some of us were crying but we were all just so happy.
A historic landmark for Spanish rugby. Not male nor female rugby, just rugby. Male and Female teams. Rugby, together at the Olympics.
So now what?