A lot has changed in the past year for Rugby Sevens stars Maddi and Tegan Levi.
July of 2021 saw 20-year-old Maddi compete at her first Olympics in Tokyo, part of the Australian side who were bundled out in the quarterfinals after claiming Gold five-years previously in Rio.
Teagan watched on from Queensland, completing her year-12 studies at Miami State High as her sister experienced the incredible high of her first the Olympic campaign and the painful low of the team’s disappointing finish.
Fast forward 12 months and the pair stand side-by-side on the podium as Commonwealth Games Gold Medallists, capping an incredible return to form for the Australian side.
“It’s starting to sink in a little bit, but I don’t think it will ever really sink in,” Maddi said.
“After not getting the result at the Olympics, we went back to the drawing board and really reassessed.
“Running out on that field, you’re playing for that person next to you and you’d do anything possible to make her life easier. Having that culture and that sisterhood has definitely been a big momentum shifter from the Olympics to now.”
“From watching Mads playing at the Olympics and not getting the result they wanted, to now being in the team, the experience was awesome,” Teagan added.
“Being alongside Mads, I wouldn’t have wanted to play with anyone else.”
Commonwealth Games Gold continues a stunning 2022 for the Aussie side, who were crowned World Series Champions in May.
Maddi earnnt rookie of the year honours in that series, while Teagan also made her international debut after both shunned the Gold Coast Suns AFLW outfit to commit to the seven-woman game.
The pair are two of seven Queenslanders who won Gold in Birmingham, with Charlotte Caslick, Demi Hayes, Dom du Toit, Lily Dick and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea following the same Sevens pathway as the Levi’s.
The duo attribute much of their success to the Queensland Academy of Sevens (QAS) program led by Reg Tayler and Lachlan Parkinson.
After first playing the format at school in Miami, the pair learnt their trade with the Queensland program under the watchful eye of Tayler and Parkinson.
“Reg and Parko, if it wasn’t for their support and their belief in me, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Maddi said.
“It started at school with Miami High and Matt Chapman giving us that opportunity to have a go at Sevens,” 18-year-old Tegan said.
“Coming through the QAS pathway gave us the opportunity to play against some of Queensland and New South Wales’ best.
“Parko and Reg took us under their wing and gave us the skills and fitness to crack the Aussie Sevens team.”
The program will only grow stronger in the coming years, with the National Rugby Training Centre set to provide a high-class, high-performance base for the squad when it’s opened in May 2023.
With a proven track record of churning out Sevens superstars, Maddi hopes Queensland can one day be the home for her Australian teammates too.
“I think it’s very exciting to look into the near future and see that development happening,” she said.
“Obviously the QAS is such a strong pathway, and with the movement up there hopefully we can develop it and make it stronger.
“We all talk about basing ourselves in Brisbane eventually. The weather is great and having those high-performance facilities to really maximise our capabilities is pretty exciting.
“There’s no better place than Queensland to house some of our best athletes.”
After savouring their recent success with their inner circle on the Gold Coast, the sisters have now turned their attention to Australia’s next task, the Sevens World Cup in South Africa in September.
“After performing so well, we’ve got a target on our backs, New Zealand and Fiji will be gunning for us,” Maddi said.
“We know what works well for us now, and we know we’ve still got so much potential.
“We’re going to be prepared to face anyone who steps in our way for a World Cup Gold medal.”