CHICHESTER teenager Jessica Breach admits disappointment that had been lingering for 12 months inspired her to the rugby sevens title at the Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games.
Breach was part of the London and south east team that had to make do with bronze at the Games in Sheffield, which came 12 months before more than 1,600 talented athletes descended on Manchester for the 2014 Games.
And the 16-year-old was one of the stars of the rugby sevens this time around, scoring two brilliant individual tries in the final to lead her team to a 33-19 triumph over England south west.
One of her tries was a length-of-the-field effort from deep inside her own 22 and Breach, who attends Lavant House School, insisted it felt sweet to claim gold after previous near misses.
“It feels amazing to win gold at the School Games, especially after coming third last year,” said Breach, who plays for South Sussex Barbarians.
“That was very heartbreaking but we used that disappointment to spur us on and so to actually win it this year was great. It took a whole team effort. It’s nice to score tries but the most important thing is winning for the team. Coming into the Games we thought a medal was possible and we’re so happy with gold.
“These Games are completely different to last year. Last year it was nice to get a medal but it was the wrong colour but this year it was amazing to get gold.”
The School Games have helped to launch the careers of a host of British athletes, including heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds who were both in attendance.
And no sooner had Breach received her gold medal than she was announced in the England women’s squad for the FIRA under-18s European Championships in Sweden.
After watching England win the Women’s Rugby World Cup and with rugby sevens making its Olympic bow at Rio 2016, Breach believes there is no better time to be playing the sport.
“It feels amazing to be part of rugby sevens at the moment with it being in the limelight as it will be at Rio,” she said. “Being at the World Cup final when the women won was amazing – it was great to see them all happy; it made us feel happy.
“And what has happened since shows that you can get a professional thing out of something that you love to do. I would love to play for the Great Britain 7s team, that would be my main goal in rugby at the moment.”
* The Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games, which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, was held in venues across Manchester from September 4 to 7. Visit www.2014schoolgames.com for more information.