Springbok icon Chester Williams runs with Rio 2016 Olympic Torch

Springbok icon Chester Williams runs with Rio 2016 Olympic Torch

(Photo: Rio 2016/Andre Luiz Mello)
  • Springbok legend Chester Williams runs with Rio 2016 Olympic Torch
  • Retired player was part of famous World Cup-winning side of 1995, whose story was told in Clint Eastwood’s film ‘Invictus’
  • Rugby returns to the Olympic this summer in Rio for the first time since 1924
Chester Williams carried the Olympic torch with rugby on the verge of ending a 92-year wait and returning to the Olympic Games, in the faster seven-a-side version of the sport.

Williams said in Brazil on Thursday, with just three weeks to go until the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, that he believed sport could help bring different races together and heal wounds of the past.

“You only have to look at the symbolism of the Olympic rings,” he said. “Unity, excellence, respect. When the Games begin, we will see athletes competing in union. And that is what people want to see.

“Carrying the torch today has been amazing. This torch stands for friendship. I am very proud and honoured to be here. I can’t explain the feeling I have – it comes very close to when we won the World Cup.”

Williams was coach of the first ever Springboks sevens team. In Brazil on Thursday, he said rugby was a natural fit for the Olympic Games and that its presence in Rio would help grow the sport globally.

“It’s amazing that rugby sevens is part of the Olympics. It’s an opportunity for rugby to show that we have all the Olympic values; respect, enjoyment and excellence, plus the balance between body, mind and spirit.

“People are going to love sevens in the Olympics. It’s a short, exciting game,” Williams said. “I would love South Africa to win it, but there will be tough competition from New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and Great Britain.”


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