Rugby

Tuimaba: I Was Dropped But I Kept Trying Harder

Star winger tells how he was not considered for Tokyo 2020 and was later recalled, He would drive for 3 hours to get to Vilimoni Botitu where they had to train for the Olympics
12 Aug 2021 16:40
Tuimaba: I Was Dropped But I Kept Trying Harder
Team Fiji men’s rugby sevens winger Aminiasi Tuimaba goes to the breakdown to assist Waisea Nacuqu (on the ground) against New Zealand in the gold final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Stadium, Japan, on July 28, 2021. Fiji won 27-12 to retain the Olympic Games gold medal. Photo: World Rugby

 

Aminiasi Tuimaba, revealed how Team Fiji men’s rugby sevens head coach, Gareth Baber, told him that he would not make the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games team due to the number of talented wingers in the training squad.

Tuimaba and Vilimoni Botitu had left to join their clubs in France after they starred for the Fiji Airways sponsored- national sevens team that won the 2019/20 HSBC World Sevens Series.

“I was still in touch with coach Gareth Baber, to a point where there were a lot of boys that were training and part of the training squad in Fiji,” Tuimaba said.

“That time it was hard for coach Baber to pick his squad, so he told me that maybe I won’t join the team because he had good wingers in the squad.”

Tuimaba said despite that he continued on with his training in France as he wanted to play in the Olympics.

“I never stopped training and kept chasing my goal of playing in the Olympic Games.”

He said it was after his club’s last Top 14 match when he got a call from Baber informing him that he was part of the team again.

“He (Baber) told me to join the extended squad at the Oceania Sevens.”

Tuimaba said he had been training for two years for the Olympic Games.

“I was only focused on winning the gold medal even when I was in France.

“I would drive for three hours to where Botitu stays so we could train together during our break from our club commitments.

“We were used to the system in the team so we needed to get to the standard the boys were in.

“We kept on motivating each other and working on our weaknesses, most importantly we were focused on the Olympic Games.”

Tuimaba said, joining the team in Townsville, Australia, he had to work even harder as the local-based players were very fit.

“I worked a lot on my defence because it was so important in sevens rugby. I had to work hard and show them that I belong to the team.”

Endless support

Holding his Olympic gold medal, Tuimaba says, this was made possible through faith, sacrifice and commitment.

He said the very reason of his rugby achievements had been the support of his family.

Now the Viwa, Yasawa, native has set his sight in playing for the Flying Fijians and probably he could make his Test debut in November.

“My family’s prayers and endless fasting have been my rock,” Tuimaba said.

“I thought about my family in Fiji and what we were going through especially my parents and grandparents.

“I was thinking about my grandfather who passed away last year.

“Before every tournament I always call him and apologise to him if I had done anything wrong.

“That has been my game ritual.

“But this time he was not there so I had to play from my heart for my family.”

Looking back, Tuimaba says, he also thought about the players that were part of the training squad but did not make it to Tokyo.

“I felt for them and so too for coach Baber because he had a tough time to select his squad.”

Tuimaba dedicates the Olympic gold medal win to his mum and family for their support and prayers.

“I just started to focus on fifteens rugby and it takes more effort to be part of the Flying Fijians.

“Nothing is impossible when the heart is willing and you are able to work hard for it.”

Already, he has made his mark in the fifteens code by being named in the Top14 Dream Team of the 2021 season.

 



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