The Road (from Waikato) to Rio: Jordon Webber

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Jordon Webber is a 24-year-old Waikato athlete who excels in the sport of women’s rugby sevens. The Tokoroa-born player started off playing provincially for Waikato, going on to represent New Zealand at the IRB World Series in 2014.

She has no shortage of family support, with her younger brother Joe, also representing New Zealand in the men’s sevens team.

In fact the pair made history by being the first set of siblings to represent New Zealand in Dubai last year and they still regularly train together. Fitness Journal’s Mariah Ririnui finds out more.

favouriteHow did you get into playing rugby sevens?
In 2012 when rugby sevens was made an Olympic sport, the New Zealand Rugby Union ran a “Go4Gold” programme as a way of encouraging females from around New Zealand to give rugby sevens a go and trial for the New Zealand team.

I played netball and touch rugby at the time and was encouraged to go along to the Go4Gold day in Hamilton. I suppose there was an expectation I would be somewhat decent at rugby because my younger brother Jo was already in the men’s NZ sevens team at the time.

This was definitely not the case when I first started! It took a little while to learn the game and get used to the contact but Joe was a massive help in teaching me everything I needed to know, so I credit a lot to him.

What competitions are you currently training for?
At the moment we are in pre-season for the upcoming sevens’ World Series. We have won the tournament for the past two years. The first tournament will run alongside the men’s tournament in December in Dubai.

What does a typical week’s training look like for you?
We are not a centralised programme so in the off-season/pre-season we have quite a few training camps, normally held at Mt Maunganui. Sometimes we will have a week in camp then a week at home schedule for several weeks.

Camps are full on – we train 2-3 times a day and sessions are at least two hours long. When we aren’t in camp, the Hamilton-based players do the majority of trainings at the Avantidrome in Cambridge.

Our trainings throughout the week include gym/weights sessions, conditioning sessions, and specific rugby sessions with our skills coach.

Those of us based in Hamilton train quite differently as we are all trying to achieve different goals – for example, one of the girls may be trying to put on muscle mass so her gym programme will be very different from someone else who is trying to improve endurance and fitness.

Explain the 2016 Olympic Games qualifying and selection process?
For our team to qualify for the Olympics we had to place in the top four from the 2014/2015 World Series. We won the World Series and were the first team to qualify for Rio. Twelve girls will be selected for the team to the Olympics at the end of the 2015/2016 World Series plus two travelling reserves. It will be a tough team to make with the skill level in our squad.

Are there any specific areas of your training that you’re working hard to improve at the moment?
At the moment my training focus is on my speed. My fitness has always been at a high level but my speed has not been great. I play in the forwards, and for my position it isn’t so important, but of course the faster I can get the better it is for the team and for my chances of selection. Over the last 12 weeks I have dramatically increased my speed more than I thought possible so I am really happy with how training is going.

What is your favourite training session?
I love a good 1km interval running session – it’s my “go to” when I want to get fit. 5x1km with 1min rest between.

What achievements are you most proud of?
Firstly, making my first New Zealand team in February 2014 to travel to USA and Brazil. I cried so much when I found out. Also being part of the team to win the World Series for the past two years.

What is your favourite place in the world you have competed?
Dubai – It is the most beautiful place. Our team stayed at the tallest hotel in the world and we visited the tallest building in the world. And the atmosphere at the Dubai tournament is one of the best of all the World Series tournaments.

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