Tok’s Turner un­earths gold at Rio Olympics

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - IAN AN­DER­SON

Amy Turner had to give up work­ing in the mines to hunt for gold in­stead.

And now she’s done it, grab­bing a gold medal when Aus­tralia beat New Zealand 24-17 in the Olympic women’s sev­ens fi­nal on Tues­day morn­ing (NZ Time).

The for­mer Toko­roa league, touch, and rugby star moved to Aus­tralia 12 years ago.

Al­most two years ago, Turner took a mas­sive pay-cut and moved south from the hot, dusty min­ing town of Mt Isa to the big smoke of Syd­ney to en­sure she would get to Rio.

That helped seal her place in a team that is favoured to win Olympic gold - ahead of New Zealand.

Turner left her home town aged 20 for Bris­bane - ‘‘I had some fam­ily - an un­cle and aunty, some cousins, and my lit­tle sis­ter’’ - be­fore mov­ing back briefly three years later.

She didn’t last long back home and this time headed to Mt Isa in Queens­land, hav­ing her arm twisted by a friend who worked in the mines

Turner’s sport­ing prow­ess was al­ready well recog­nised she’d played league for the Queens­land State of Ori­gin women’s team - and was on the verge of mak­ing the na­tional sev­ens team.

‘‘I got se­lected to go to a world se­ries tour­na­ment in Lon­don, so I had to ring my new boss and ask him for a month off be­fore I’d even started.’’

Turner jug­gled her job as a haul truck driver on the night shift with train­ing - but as the lure of the Olympics crew closer, so did the pres­sure to be­come a full-time sportswoman.

‘‘I’d go to work, in ev­ery break we’d get I’d go to sleep and ev­ery­one was say­ing ‘why do you sleep all the time?’,’’ she told the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald.

‘‘When I think about it now, I think ‘how the hell did I do it?’ It was tough.’’

She moved to Syd­ney in Oc­to­ber 14, driven solely by her Olympic am­bi­tions.

‘‘I get paid a quar­ter of the amount that I was earn­ing in the mines, I’ve had to con­trol my spend­ing!’’ she laughed.

‘‘But at the end of the day, the Olympics is a one-off op­por­tu­nity and I had to take it with both hands.

I don’t think I would have made the Olympic team had I not moved to Syd­ney at that time. ‘‘I’d do it all over again. ‘‘Money’s not ev­ery­thing.’’

Amy Turner won a gold medal when the Aus­tralian Sev­ens beat NZ on Tues­day.

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