Stevenson aiming to make mark
January 1, 2013
Dale Stevenson competed for Australia at the London Olympics © Getty Images
Australian Olympic shot putter Dale Stevenson is looking forward to making a mark in his new sport following his switch to rugby with the Melbourne Rebels.
Stevenson competed at the London Olympics, but after he failed to reach the shot put final he switched to rugby having become disillusioned with athletics. Since then he has begun getting to grips with his new sport and has dropped from 138kg to 118kg to be ready to play in the front row. The 25-year-old has not played rugby since his school days, but is hopeful of eventually making an impression for the Rebels.
''I'm enjoying the challenge. It's not easy but I didn't expect it to be,'' Stevenson told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''The big thing over the past few months was getting myself into shape so I can handle a full-time training load and get around the park. I fell in love with the game when I went to school in England but on my return to Melbourne in 2001 there weren't many avenues for rugby so I went down the AFL path before I found athletics.''
Stevenson will start off playing in the Rebels Academy and with Melbourne Harlequins, an amateur side that is affiliated to the English champions. He still retains much of the raw power that he needed in athletics and is now putting it to use on the rugby pitch.
''There was a 220-kilogram bench press, a 290-kilogram squat and a 185-kilogram clean [lift],'' he said. "While the numbers were down on what I've done in the past, I was reasonably happy they didn't fall off as far as I thought they might have. Over the past few months we've done grappling, wrestling and scrummaging and I've taken to it better than was originally forecast.''
Stevenson isn't the first shot-putter to switch to rugby. Tom Court switched to rugby in 2004 and went on to represent Queensland and Ireland as a front row forward, while his fellow Ireland international Victor Costello competed at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games before he went on to play for Ireland at the 2003 World Cup.
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