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Sonny Bill Williams eyes up Olympic gold to top remarkable sporting career

Sonny Bill Williams believes winning an Olympic gold medal in Rio could be the highlight of an already superlative career across several sports.

Williams is part of the New Zealand squad hoping to mark the inaugural rugby sevens competition at the Games by topping the podium after transitioning to the format at the start of the year.

While the 31-year-old was wary of getting too far ahead of himself, he thinks a gold medal would outstrip any of his other achievements - a statement not to be taken lightly after lifting the Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks last year.

Speaking at the team's press conference, Williams said: "It would have to surpass it because, as an athlete, there's no higher level than the Olympics.

"(But) we've got to win it first."

Williams has also won the NRL and World Club Challenge from his two stints in rugby league and is unbeaten after seven relatively low-key boxing bouts.

Knee and ankle injuries have spoiled his foray into sevens but he is grateful to head coach Gordon Tietjens for giving him the opportunity to compete at the Olympics.

"I'm just fortunate enough that Titch gave me a shot at the start of the year and I've been fortunate enough to learn off these boys in the team and train my butt off," said Williams, who will return to the All Blacks for Rugby Championship tests later this month.

"Having had no sevens experience coming into this year, I sat down with the coach and the key was putting myself in the sevens environment through the whole year.

"The fitness levels are up where they should be, the knowledge of the game is up there as well so I'm looking forward to going out there in a few days."

New Zealand begin their campaign against Japan next Tuesday at the Deodoro Stadium, while they also take on Kenya and Great Britain in Group B.

"No team is easy to beat in sevens," said Williams. "We're just trying to make sure our preparation ticks all those boxes, leaving no stone unturned and making sure every second counts."

Away from playing, Williams will be keeping an eye on how his sister, Niall, fares in the women's competition.

"My sister's playing in the women's team so I'll be pretty keen to watch that," he added.


From Belfast Telegraph