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On Your Marks ep.1: story of female rugby player Tyla Nathan-Wong

Reporter: Owen Poland 丨 CCTV.com

08-04-2016 19:38 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Rio Olympics

We continue our Olympic series on Asian athletes -- On Your Marks! Today, we go to New Zealand to learn the story of a female rugby player whose medal aspirations turned her into a fitting sporting role model.

Four years of hard work has finally paid off for 22 year old Aucklander, Tyla Nathan-Wong with her inclusion in the New Zealand Olympic Women's Sevens team.

"It's exciting, nerve-wracking, all at the same time. But I think it's just going to be an amazing opportunity to be able to go out there and represent myself, my family and my country," Tyla said.

Tyla's close knit family shared the joy of Olympic selection, and they're often at the gym to watch her train - especially her New Zealand-born Chinese grandfather who taught her ball skills at an early age.

"Words can't describe how proud I am of her achievements up to this date," said David Wong, Tyla's grandfather.

As a youngster, David Wong was the first Chinese New Zealander to play rugby league for Auckland.

"My mum and dad didn't want me to play because they said to me, 'oh you know it's too rough, you're too small," David Wong said.

And history was repeated when Tyla decided to play competitive rugby.

"People have told me that I have been too small to play rugby or not strong enough, but I've just taken that and flipped that into a positive," said Tyla.

Weighing only 55 kilograms, Tyla quickly developed a reputation as having the fastest feet in the Kiwi squad - and over the past four years has helped win three world series - AND been voted twenty-fifteen Player of the Year.

"There's a great skill set, mentally, pretty composed on the field,  talks well, communicates really well on the field, is competitive, and you need that," said Sean Horan, coach of New Zealand Rugby Womens' Sevens.

In her role as half-back, Tyla is known as "The Boss" making split second decisions that can make the difference between winning and losing.

"You've got to be fit, fast, strong and have the smarts," Tyla said.

Tyla's Chinese great grandparents emigrated to New Zealand from Guangzhou, so playing in the final of the twenty-fourteen Guangzhou sevens - and beating Australia - was a special moment.

"And I'm proud of being Chinese, proud of being Maori as well, which is on my father's side, so yeh, proud of who I am and where I've come from," she said.

And who knows, maybe when she's finished playing - and completed her University Sport and Exercise degree - Tyla could help coach China to sevens victory at a future Olympics.

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