Olympic gold medalist Emilee Cherry has announced she will not be returning to the Aussie sevens rugby team for the Tokyo Olympics and is retiring from the sport effective immediately.
The 28-year-old Roma, Queensland native is a pioneer and founding member of the sevens women’s program, becoming one of the first Australian women to earn a professional full-time rugby contract in 2012.
She made her international debut at the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Dubai in 2012. During her decade with the squad Cherry obtained 31 World Series caps. She was instrumental in helping the Aussie 7s program to their two World Series championships, in 2015-16 and 2017-18.
A prolific player known for her on-field vision and cool head, Cherry was given the nickname “GOAT” from her teammates. She scored an incredible 137 tries and 37 goals in her sevens career. This included a blistering 181-second hat-trick. She ensured wins for the squad on a number of occasion and won the World Series Player of the Year in 2014 at age 21.
One of two players to score over 700 points for Australia, Cherry also won a silver medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal at the 2018 San Francisco Rugby World Cup Sevens.
The height of the Queenslander’s career is arguably her 2016 Olympic Gold medal. Cherry scored three tries during the Rio de Janeiro campaign. According to head coach John Maneti she was instrumental throughout the tournament and is a “one in a million” player.
Australian women’s Sevens rugby star Emilee Cherry – dubbed “GOAT” by her teammates – has made the shock decision to call time on her career and pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics. https://t.co/yaw0ohljbs pic.twitter.com/pty6yQH7uI— The Tax Nerd (@TaxNerdOz) May 28, 2021
Cherry, who gave birth to daughter Alice in 2019, had planned to make the Tokyo Games her final appearance in the green and gold jersey. However, when discussing her retirement Cherry cited injury, childcare and concerns over COVID-19 as the factors that resulted in this shock decision:
“My body told me it’s had enough, and the COVID situation with schedules changing so much, and juggling Alice and childcare and (husband) Dan’s schedule… we made the decision to step back and play a support role going into Tokyo, “Cherry told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. “I have been emotional about the decision and some of the girls have tried to talk be out of it.”
Discussing her memories from her decade as a professional Cherry named the friends she made as her best take-away from her storied career. She also stated her enthusiasm to cheer on the Aussie7s as they go forward with their gold medal defence in Tokyo.