Rio 2016 Olympic Unsung Heroes: Rugby sevens silver medallist Dan Bibby
The Great Britain men's rugby sevens team made history in August by winning silver in Rio. Sports Gazette spoke to one of the key players Dan Bibby about rugby sevens, the Olympic atmosphere and becoming a father.
How do you recover from a shoulder injury, win an Olympic silver medal and become a father in a year? Ask Dan Bibby, England rugby sevens international.
When Rio came knocking for Mancunian Bibby, the opportunity to win an Olympic medal was an unmissable one.
Great Britain beat Kenya, Japan and New Zealand to advance to the quarter-finals against Argentina in which Bibby made the difference, scoring the only try in a 5-0 victory.
World second-seeds South Africa waited in the semi-finals but GB pulled out a 7-5 win. Despite losing the final 43-7 to world champions Fiji, the men made their country proud.
Bibby earnt a place in the Rio Olympic rugby sevens 'Dream Team' and has fond memories of the tournament.
“When I watched it back, I thought we were pretty lucky in most of the games!” Bibby said at an IPA Championship clash in September.
“We only won each game, apart from Kenya, by a couple of points. If the bounce of the ball had gone the wrong way, we could have been on the losing end.
“We were lucky at times but I think that was down to the hard work the boys put in over the summer.”
Bibby began his playing career at Aspull RFC, Wigan. After a stint at Sale Sharks in 2011, Bibby switched to rugby sevens in 2012.
Having now represented England in the World Series four times and accumulated 321 individual points, Bibby is now an Olympic medallist.
Bibby has worked hard throughout his career through enjoyment of the game but now he is also working for his new-born child, Jasper James Bibby.
Welcome to the world 👶🏻 pic.twitter.com/QvRqNFoC9X— Daniel Bibby (@dbibby15) September 23, 2016
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for the last couple of weeks,” Bibby said. “As soon as I got back, I had a baby on the way so I’ve had a lot to get my head around.
“I hadn’t really focused on it because of the Olympics so as soon as I got back I said ‘We’ll see how the sessions go’.”If the bounce of the ball had gone the wrong way, we could have been on the losing end.”
Bibby remains focused on his rugby and is looking forward to being part of the England squad this year.
“I had a good time with the GB lads- I enjoyed meeting all the new guys. I’m back with my team now and we’ve got ambitions to do really well this year.”
The HSBC Sevens World Series starts in Dubai on 2nd December, finishing in London on 21st May 2017.
“We’ve got a good set of senior boys and we’ve just recruited a lot from the academy. We just want to enjoy this season and see how far we can get.”
Bibby has tasted lots of success in his rugby sevens career. But when the GB rugby sevens team went to Rio, Bibby tasted the carnival atmosphere.
“We loved it! It was absolutely incredible just being in the Team GB block; they talk about it being a team and it definitely is.”
Bibby explained that every time a GB athlete was competing, everyone watched on a big screen and cheered them on.
“Because you’re living in the same apartment blocks, you feel like you’re really good mates. When you’re cheering people on, you say ‘I actually know this person’ and you get behind them.
“I think you forget how many people watched it- it was the sort of support I’ve never seen before. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.”
The countdown to Tokyo 2020 has already begun and Bibby is optimistic for GB men's rugby sevens.
“I think it will just keep growing and growing. It reached out to a new audience that have never actually watched rugby or rugby sevens before and didn’t know the game.
“Now I think people know a lot more about it. They’re going to be watching the World Series a lot more and then, as it builds towards the Olympics in four years, I think it will just keep rising and rising.”