Abi Burton - one of the five recipients of the Sir John Hanson Young Talent Scholarship - has been continuing her training during lockdown at home in Castleford. With the lure of a home Commonwealth Games in 2022 in Birmingham at the forefront of her mind.
Burton got her first taste of representing Team England when she was nominated to represent Rugby Sevens on the Team England virtual athlete kit panel, which came on the back on the announcement that Kukri would be kit supplier for the third Commonwealth cycle at the 2022 Games.
“It was great to get a taste of what goes into a big event and cool to see all the different athletes and some pretty famous ones who I’ve looked up throughout my life. It was really good to be included in it, with all the various kit and all the different athletes from different sports it was interesting to hear and see how different every sport is and how we have got to accommodate for everybody.”
Burton is yet to represent Team England but is part of Commonwealth Games England’s Sir John Hanson scholarship which helps support five young English athletes in the lead up to Birmingham 2022.
“Having never been to any multi-sport Games it was exciting to be involved in that, and it made me think about how maybe in a few years time I’ll be able to sit on this kit panel and talk about my experiences from previous Games.”
“When I put on an England shirt, it is like I am living my dream and it’ll be the same when I put on the Team England kit and proof that all the hard work that I’ve done is embodied in wearing the kit.”
The potential of a home tournament for Burton is a massive coup as the England rugby sevens outfit rarely play on home soil. With Birmingham 2022 offering the opportunity to change that.
“We always play away and I haven’t played in front of my grandparents and some of my family members for years and they only ever see me play on TV. It would mean the absolute world to me to run out and for me to have my family there watching me, which is the thing that excites me most about it being a home Games.”
Burton’s rugby talent run in the family, with her Dad Danny, a former player for the Bradford Bulls, and brothers, Joe and Oli, currently plying their trade for Leeds Rhinos.
Since moving back up to her family home in Castleford at the beginning of the lockdown, Abi has been thrown back into the competitive environment she grew up with.
“We have a home gym and I’m quite lucky we can go up to the field as a group and play touch rugby and do two v two and stepping drills. It reminds me of when I was younger and running around after my brothers and the rough and tumble of what it was like."
"It is quite competitive even though I’ve come home, but it is only going to bring the best out of us once we come back into a team environment again.”