The Road to Tokyo with Madison Hughes

Hi, I’m Madison Hughes and I play for the USA Men’s Rugby 7’s team. As we prepare for the postponed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo this summer, Paceline asked me to relate some of my experiences as an athlete. 

 

First, a bit about me. I grew up in London, England to an American mother and an English father and have been playing rugby since I was 7 years old. I went to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and from there was invited to train with the US national team at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. I debuted for the team in Wellington, New Zealand in February 2014 and became the captain of the team later that year. In 2016, I was incredibly privileged to be a part of Team USA in Rio de Janeiro, and although the team underperformed relative to our expectations, the Olympics were still an absolutely incredible experience.

 

Now, you may be wondering, what exactly is Rugby 7’s? In the traditional form of rugby, each team has 15 players and the game lasts 80 minutes. In rugby 7’s, there are 7 players per team and the game is only 14 minutes long. The effect of fewer players is that rugby 7’s is much more dynamic and free-flowing, as each team has more space to operate in. This leads to more “tries” (rugby’s version of a touchdown), and overall more exciting action in a shorter period of time. We generally play in a tournament format, where a group of teams will play each other over a weekend with an overall champion emerging. Rugby 7’s was introduced to the Olympics at Rio 2016 and came away with many praising it as an exciting addition to the Games. 

 

In a normal year, we compete in 10 tournaments all over the world (Dubai, Cape Town, Sydney, Hamilton (NZ), Los Angeles, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Paris) in the World Rugby 7’s Series. At each tournament, 16 countries compete for the win with one nation emerging victorious at the end of the season as the overall champion. Our highest ever finish was 2nd in the 2018-2019 Olympic Qualifying Season. 

 

I was introduced to Paceline last summer and it came at a great time for me. During a typical training block, I do some form of fitness every day so getting my 50 minutes of exercise each day is a fun added motivation. During quarantine, our team training had been completely shut down, so Paceline’s motivating factor helped me a lot in maintaining good habits. The rewards on offer are also a great way to discover new brands that help support me as I train. I was already familiar with some of them, like Hyperice (I love my vibrating sphere!!) but many of them were completely new. I was able to try out Sun Basket for the first time and loved the meal kits they provided. It was a fantastic blend of healthy and tasty all in an easy-to-make format that left me feeling accomplished in what I cooked!


As Tokyo looms, I’ll be updating you with some of my preparation and experiences from inside the tournament. It’s an exciting time where all of the hard work will hopefully pay off. Until next time, keep the streaks going!

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