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England Sevens Rugby
Norton reluctant to dream about Olympics
ESPN Staff
July 23, 2012
Dan Norton is reportedly quicker over 20m than Usain Bolt © Mizuno
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England Sevens speedster Dan Norton has his sights set on Olympic and World Cup gold but is adamant that they must focus on next year's HSBC Sevens World Series before turning their attention to future targets.

With the Olympics due to kick-off in London on Friday, some focus in the Sevens scene is already turning towarsd 2016 in Rio de Janeiro when Sevens will be included in sport's biggest event. It's an exciting time to be involved in the short-form of the game with Sevens' popularity at an all-time high and with the World Cup occurring in Russia next year, Norton will hope to play a key part. But regardless of how attractive the future tournaments are, Norton admits that England must not lose focus in their goal to tie up the Sevens Series next year.

"I think it's one of those things [Sevens being included in the Olympics] that you never thought would happen," Norton told ESPN. "But now that it is in the mix ahead of the 2016 Olympics, it is just huge for the sport. It's a great thing to have on the horizon and getting that gold medal is certainly something to aspire to. And before then is the World Cup over in Moscow next summer. I haven't played there but some of the other boys have and I've heard that the stadia are amazing. It will be incredible to be involved in.

"But first of all we've got the whole season of the HSBC Sevens World Series ahead of us. We started pre-season training on Monday so we need to kick-start the Series with some solid performances and some wins before we even start thinking about the World Cup."

At the forefront of England's charge in the short format of the game is England Sevens boss Ben Ryan. He has brought a whole new modern outlook to the sport and is a huge influence in Sevens' worldwide growth - a far cry from back in 1993 when England won the World Cup with a team that was essentially a mismatch of well-known XV players.

"Back when they won it in 1993, they were all 15s players in the Sevens format so it will be very different this time around," Norton said. "But Ben [Ryan] will get us in great shape and he's a great coach. He has some unique and original ideas and even though they sometimes seem wacky, they always work out. Sometimes his speeches and banter is a bit weird but it keeps us on our toes and we all get on well so it's a great team to be involved in."

Norton came into Sevens from the XV form of the game and still turns out for Hartbury whenever time allows. He will "never say never" to returning to Sevens' bigger brother, but is loving playing the short format of the sport.

"It didn't really work out for me in the XV format of the game but Sevens really suits the way I play," Norton said. "It's all about speed and agility so that's helped me massively in developing my game. Playing Sevens week in week out tests your skills to another level and that doesn't really happen in the XV format."

Dan Norton was speaking at the official opening of the Mizuno Performance Centre - open to the public between the 24th July and 12th August at Centre Point Building, 101- 103 New Oxford Street. Visit www.mizunoseiei.com for further details.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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