Olympic legend Daley Thompson heads up HKRU team of HKSevens Ambassadors
The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) today announced its team of Olympic and rugby legends who will be attending next week's Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and HKSevens Rugby Week activities as its HKSevens Ambassadors.
With 2016 marking the Olympic debut of Rugby Sevens at the Rio Games in August, Olympic legend Daley Thompson will be attending the tournament with the support of the Laureus Academy.
Thompson, winner of Olympic Gold in the Decathlon at the 1980 and 1984 Summer Games, is a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy and will support a variety of Laureus Sport for Good programme activities while in Hong Kong.
The Laureus Sport for Good programme funds children's community sports projects worldwide and supports over 150 projects in 35 countries, changing the lives of millions of youth through their efforts, which have raised over 100 million euros since 2000.
Laureus have partnered with local charity Operation Breakthrough, supported by Standard Chartered and the HKRU, since 2003 to help fund and provide coaching resources for Operation Breakthrough's rugby programmes for at-risk youth. The first ever Operation Breakthrough Rugby coach was Hong Kong's Rambo Leung, also the first Chinese player to represent Hong Kong at international level. Operation Breakthrough offers a range of programmes including in football, boxing, cricket, judo, basketball, Outward Bound, Lion Dance and Modern Dance.
Robbie McRobbie, General Manager of Rugby Operations and Commercial at the HKRU commented on Thompson's support to the tournament saying, "We are delighted to welcome Daley Thompson to the Hong Kong Sevens in 2016. His success in the Games and personal experience of overcoming adversity are a shining example to the kids in the thriving Operation Breakthrough programme and at our Hong Kong rugby school in Tai O."
As one of the world's foremost Olympians and a Briton who was heavily involved in the 2012 London Games campaign, Thompson is uniquely placed to comment on the impact that Rugby Sevens can have on the Games.
"Like the rest of the sporting world, I am excited to see Rugby Sevens make its Olympic debut in Rio. The skill, colour and fast-paced action of the sport will complement and enhance the rest of the Games," said Thompson.
Thompson broke the world record in the Decathlon four times in his glittering career. He also collected three Commonwealth Games titles and victories at the World and European Championships and is today considered one of the greatest decathletes of all time. He has been called the greatest all-round athlete the United Kingdom has ever produced and is a former winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. Thompson was awarded an MBE (1982), OBE (1986) and CBE (2000) for his contribution to British sport and society.
During his stay in Hong Kong, Thompson, along with fellow Laureus Academy member and former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick, will support the Laureus Sport for Good programme activities in Hong Kong, including attending HKSevens Central in Chater Garden on Thursday, 7 April from 10.30am to noon, where a special Laureus-themed game booth will be featured.
Later that day, Thompson will appear at the Value of Sport Luncheon, organized by the Hong Kong Rugby Union and the New Zealand Consulate-General in Hong Kong and sponsored by Sino Group.
Thompson will join an A-list group of speakers including Fitzpatrick, Christian Cullen, and former Scotland rugby captain Al Kellock at the luncheon which emphasises the role sport can play in breaking down barriers and promoting social inclusion.
Following the lunch, Thompson and Fitzpatrick will visit one of the HKRU's official rugby schools, the Fat Ho Memorial Buddhist School in Tai O.
During the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Thompson will also interact with members of the Operation Breakthrough rugby programme.
Alongside Thompson and Fitzpatrick, a coterie of rugby legends is supporting the Sevens including David Campese and Christian Cullen, two members of the Hong Kong Rugby Union's 'Magnificent Seven' – the seven best players to have appeared in Hong Kong named last year as part of the HKRU's celebrations of 40 years of Sevens.
Also attending is a third winner – alongside Campo and Cullen – of the Leslie Williams Award for Best & Fairest Player of the Hong Kong Sevens, New Zealand's Karl Te Nana.
Former Scotland sevens international Colin Gregor and England sevens player Rob Vickerman are also helping to promote this year's tournament. Gregor captained the Scotland Sevens team from 2009 to 2014, playing in three World Cup Sevens (2005, 2009 and 2013) and two Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 and Glasgow 2014. He is the only Scot to score over 1,000 points on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Vickerman is a former member of the England Sevens squad.
The HKSevens Ambassadors will be heavily involved in the wide array of HKRU community engagement activities around HKSevens Rugby Week, including coaching youth rugby clinics at the HKSevens Central fan engagement zone in Chater Garden on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
The sporting legends will also serve as the masters of ceremony for the upcoming Lan Kwai Fong HKSevens Carnival on Tuesday, 5 April, from 8.00pm to 11.00pm.