Kaitlin Shave Living Olympic Dream As Sprinter Turned Sevens Star

Thu, Jul 4, 2024, 4:10 AM
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker

Kaitlin Shave still feels “in shock” after winning Olympic selection in rugby sevens after first dreaming of doing so as a track sprinter.

The pacy finisher from Brisbane is one of the new shining lights of Australia’s gold medal-chasing sevens side heading to Paris in a few short weeks.

It’s not just because she has the speed on the edge to finish any of the crafty creating done by Charlotte Caslick or Teagan Levi on the inside.

It’s because she represents what is possible in women’s sport today. She’s a classic Code Switch case.

The Queensland Academy of Sport's recent Code Switch camps were looking for more ambitious young women just like Shave in a strategic talent search to bolster the ranks of those playing rugby sevens and beach volleyball in the run up to the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

Caslick switched from touch. Try-scorer supreme Maddi Levi played AFLW before she took her speed and leaping for kick-offs into dominating sevens. The list goes on.

As a Grade 5 schoolgirl, Shave was so bewitched she drew the Olympic rings and a pair of running spikes for a school project at Runcorn State School before the 2012 London Olympics.

She took her track career as far as a blistering 11.92 sec clocking for 100m as a teen before touch and a switch to rugby sevens besotted her.

Being named in Australia’s 12-strong squad for Paris still took her breath away even though most expected her name to be there.

“It’s been such a very long road I still feel in a bit of shock to be honest,” Shave said excitedly after Wednesday’s announcement lunch at a French restaurant in Sydney.

“I’ve had dreams about the Olympics ever since I was in primary school so to actually make the team is something I’m really excited about.”

Every time young Queensland sprinter Torrie Lewis breaks another longstanding record, it still thrills Shave.

“I always follow along on social media and there are always texts between mum and I when Torrie is a hot topic with another great run,” Shave said.

“It’d be really cool to see her run her 100m in Paris.

“I know for me I found athletics a really individual sport. With rugby sevens, I love the massive team environment where everyone uplifts each other or gets around you if something doesn’t go right.

“It’s such a good sisterhood with our sevens team.”

Shave has literally been fast out of the blocks at sevens. She only made her debut in the HSBC SVNS series event in Dubai in December last year.

In her second event, she scored the matchwinner against France in the final in Cape Town with a fierce fend and an in-and-away for a long-range try.

“I was so grateful to get that debut in Dubai. I’ve been so focussed on just making teams for the next event that the Olympics always seemed a long, long way in the distance,” Shave said.

“Scoring that try in Cape Town definitely gave me a boost of confidence. I was like ‘what just happened’ over the tryline when it did.

“From there, it’s just been about getting more consistent. I still make mistakes but you are always looking to get better in attack and defence.”

Having close friend Bella Nasser make the team as another debutant adds extra joy.

“Bella and I have been through a lot together since touch days. It’s crazy to think where we’ve come from and now where we are going,” Shave said.

In all, Queenslanders fill six of the 12 spots in the women’s sevens squad for the Olympics with captain Caslick, Dom du Toit, Maddi and Teagan Levi, Nasser and Shave included.

It’s the powerful reason why Rugby Australia has pledged to move the Australian women’s sevens squad full-time from Sydney to Brisbane if a Government commitment is made to build a sevens high-performance centre at Ballymore.

Hayden Sargeant and Nick Malouf are the Queenslanders named in the men’s squad.