Obviously, I feel hugely nostalgic, seeing that we could have been there with Spain. Yet, it is great that rugby sevens can be at another Olympic Games.
I am very happy to see my international team-mates in the Olympics after such a tough year, that we can play after what being in the Games has meant to rugby.
Rio 2016 was a turning point for rugby and it generated a message to the future of Spanish rugby that we must continue fighting to be at the Games as they are a great, unforgettable event. Hopefully, we can be in Paris in 2024.
It is also important that rugby is not about what happens on the field of play: the values of the game are our flag and we share them with the Olympic movement.
In Spain the impact of being in the Games was really felt and it meant a new dawn for us given that many saw rugby for the first time and then came to us.
The media opportunity we had made us more visible and allowed us to grow – it was one of the many positive aspects of that experience.
I would have loved to have Spain in Tokyo. But in a way, not being there allowed us to work with Las Leonas for six weeks ahead of the qualifying rounds of Rugby World Cup 2021. We were all there, 15s and sevens players. We want to take the shortest road to New Zealand.
These days, everybody is looking to Tokyo.
I have team-mates and friends in almost every team; I feel close to New Zealand and France, a connection with those two countries.
This year had very little competition and that could generate big surprises, jumping three, four places in a competition will scare the big teams.
In an unusual year of pandemic, anything can happen. Knowing who is in each pool with such anticipation allowed teams to prepare their game plan and that can generate surprises.
Amongst the candidate you obviously have New Zealand. The Black Ferns are aiming for gold in a very competitive Pool A. They have great and experienced players.
What exactly is experience? It helps with mental and emotional preparation – I now get less nervous than when I started to play. It means you’ve already lived these situations, these emotions.
Moments of huge stress, such as do-or-die games, carry a lot pressure. The tactical and strategic aspects get tougher because of emotions, more so in a high performance environment where a decision can be the key to winning or losing.
In that sense, having a player such as Sarah Hirini will help her team to keep calm, certainly an asset.
With the New Zealanders you have the Russian Olympic Committee team, who play a very physical game and are competing well, having come through the Repechage tournament in Monaco.
There is also Great Britain who qualified directly through Europe and have brought some players from the 15s game. Finally, there is Kenya, less known but to be respected. They are very physical although lacking experience. We’ve just seen in the men’s game between Argentina and South Africa that in sevens anything can happen.
Canada, France, Fiji and Brazil are in Pool B. We know the first two teams very well, both capable of going the full distance. Canada took bronze in Rio and France were finalists in Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco and can play the game.
Fiji and Brazil might lack the experience at the top. Whilst Fiji has beaten big teams with their off-load play, and Brazil are capable of surprising as they did in RWC 7s 2013 in Moscow I would bet on the teams with more experience in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
As Olympic champions, the Australians are also favourites in Tokyo; they were very solid in their previous Olympic cycle and this time they've had some rough patches like losing to France in semifinals in San Francisco. We’ll miss Elia Green and the excitement she brings to the game.
USA will also be strong, they been a surprise team recently and Japan playing at home will have character and sufficient weapons to be competitive. China has been working very well at this level and it will be interesting to see what they bring to the Olympics.
More than saying who I would want to be gold medallist, I’ll be happy with a solid competition with a good standard of rugby. That this sevens tournament generates interest so that more people get to know our game. I want people to speak highly of rugby.
Photo: Frankie Deges