Sticking with a sport long enough to take it to a high level isn’t just about consecutive victories, it’s also about resilience when you’re beaten down. Chinese International School rugby player Madeleine Witt knows what it rejection feels like, but every knock-back has fortified her to become a formidable player.
“I trialled twice for Nationals rugby in the Under 16s age category, but was not good enough to make it on the team,” the 17-year-old tells Young Post. “Not being good enough did not sit well with me, so I trained hard, did a lot of running training as well to improve my fitness, and came back to the Under 19s for trials and made it on the team last year and again this year!”
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Madeleine started training with Sandy Bay club nine years ago when she went along to one of her friends’ sessions to see what it was like. She admits that the flip-flops she wore probably weren’t the safest footwear during her trial, but she really enjoyed her first taste of the sport. She played mixed rugby for several years until she started competing in under-14 girls’ rugby. Now, she plays for Sandy Bay, Hong Kong Cricket Club and the national team.
Last year, Madeleine was selected to represent Hong Kong under-19s on a tour to Fukuoka, in Japan, at an international tournament. There, the team played against squads from all over the world.
As Madeleine grows as a player, her sport takes up increasing room in her life. In the last year, she has played against other girls from the national rugby team at the New Years Day game and the Showcase 7’s game. Keeping match-fit requires a lot of commitment, but Madeleine loves rugby so much that it doesn’t feel like a chore.
As well as practising tackling and scrum tactics, Madeleine spends quite a lot of time every week keeping her fitness level sharp. She loves hiking with her dog and running, and she trains with local athletics squad 26 Coaching. “Running is not my main sport,” she says, yet she is a strong competitor in races – last month she ran in the HKSSF Division Cross Country championships and came fifth.
Madeleine wants to take her sport to the top, but for the time being she is focused on doing well in the IB, and rugby helps take her mind off the stresses of study. “I like rugby because it helps me to clear my mind of all the stress that builds up from school and life in general.”
“My ultimate goal for now is to be nominated to trial for the Under 20s women team next year,” she says. “However, at the moment I just want to continue pushing myself and to continue improving my game.”
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
A lion: they’re fast and deadly
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
Anything containing a lot of carbs: I tend to eat pasta the night before.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company are you spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I really like the Adidas rugby boots I currently have, so probably Adidas!