Rumble athlete Bianca Farella's world came crashing down last March. As a member of the Canada Rugby 7s team, she was halfway through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Upcoming tournaments were scheduled for Langford, Paris, and Hong Kong, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to follow. Everything was put on hold when the pandemic spread.
What does life look like for a top-tier athlete, when competitions disappear from the calendar, and training with your teammates becomes a health risk? We asked Bianca to fill us in on how she adjusted to 2020's challenges, and what's coming next for her and her team.
Q: The 2020 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series ended early this year because of the pandemic - what was happening with you and the team in those early weeks in the spring when no one was sure if sporting events would go ahead?
A: We continued to train hard, focusing on conditioning, strength, and speed training. We were unable to do team training, but we were eventually able to train with groups of up to 3. With the World Series on hold we continued to train - just in case we had to pick up where we left off. Eventually all tournaments were cancelled or postponed, but we still had our feet on the gas in case we were competing in the fall. In those early weeks, I was having a hard time coping with Team Canada’s removal from the Games, then quickly the Games were postponed a year. It was difficult to stay motivated, but I had a great training buddy (teammate & bestie Kayla Moleschi and her pup, Finnigan). We lost all the races to Finnigan, but we made a great team.
Q: Were you able to continue to train through the spring and summer?
A: Definitely! We were able to train on local fields and tracks around the city. Training in the summer makes things easier because the weather is usually great!
Q: What does your training schedule look like now?
A: We are fortunate enough to be able to train as a team, finally! We still have many limitations - for example, we’re divided into two groups because our gym has a limit to the number of people allowed inside.
It has been so great to feel like a team again! We’ve been able to play intrasquad games to regain our game fitness and tactics. The intrasquad games have been fun and competitive, and we’ve managed to maintain a lot of our skill and fitness from the quarantined months!
Q: Do you think there will be a chance to compete with other national teams in the lead-up to the 2021 Olympics (postponed from 2020)?
A: There are several options in place for playing matches against different nations in 2021. I truly hope we get the chance to do so as it is such an important part of our training and build to the Olympic Games.
Q: Biggest challenges for you over the last year:
A: The biggest challenge for me was to keep consistently training at a high level when maybe my Olympic dreams had vanished. I trained with an incredible teammate who is in a similar boat as myself, and we experienced some hard days, but every time we were able to deliver quality training. The biggest challenge was mental, but once we passed that hurdle we were crushing our workouts.
Q: What kept you going:
A: The love of rugby kept me going! I knew there would be a time when we would be playing again and I had set my eyes on that. I play rugby because it brings me joy, and I’m lucky enough to be playing at the highest level in something I love to do. I value health and wellness, so being able to train daily, and play the sport I love at the highest level is my dream job.
Q: Any silver linings you’ve discovered in lockdown?
A: A silver lining for which I was grateful during lockdown was how much time I had to study. I am completing my undergrad, and all that time was spent convincing myself to study when I wasn’t. Just kidding, I studied a lot and procrastinated a little bit...
Q: Goals for 2021:
A: WIN AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL!
Follow Bianca on Instagram - @biancafarella
Want to be our next Rumble Ambassador? Apply now.