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Gabi Rennie nominated for the Olympic Games



Now it's official: Åland United's Gabi Rennie is taking part in this year's Olympic Games in Paris. The 23-year-old New Zealander has been playing for the Ferns (New Zealand) senior team since 2021 and is an integral part of Åland United this season. Gabi, who has already scored 4 goals this season, deliberately chose the Finnish league to prepare herself as best as possible for the Olympics.


We interviewed Gabi about her Olympic nomination and of course wish her the best of luck for the games!


Gabi, Congratulations for your Olympic nomination! How does it feel to represent New Zealand on such a prestigious international stage?


I am so grateful every time I get to put on the fern and represent my country so to get to do that at the Olympics makes me feel so honoured and grateful. I have always dreamed of going to the Olympics to play for New Zealand and be apart of the Olympic squad so I feel so proud to achieve that.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced while preparing for the Olympics, both mentally and physically?

I made the decision to come to play in Finland to best prepare me for the Olympics and give myself the best chance of selection and I am grateful I made that decision as I feel it is paying off, however, it was challenging for me to move so far from home and be so far from my support network. Also, preparing for any big selection is very stressful and it can be a lot of pressure, so I have definitely felt a lot of nerves leading up to selection.

How has playing in Finland influenced your skills and preparation for the Olympics?

Playing in Finland has allowed me to play to my strengths as a physical forward and really help my confidence on the ball. I am grateful to be getting good game time and being involved in games which is always the best way to develop and prepare for a big tournament.

What are some key differences you've noticed between training and playing in Finland and New Zealand?

I think there a few similarities between the two countries as they are both small, but I think Finland has a bigger football culture than New Zealand where the main sport is rugby. I think that most of the players here have only played football so are pretty technical whereas a lot of kiwis (New Zealanders) play lots of different sports when they are young which adds more of a physical side.

Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career, and how have they influenced your approach to the game?

I am honestly always inspired by my family. I am always wanting to make them proud both on and off the field and I think that is a big driving force for me. I grew up with two brothers who always pushed me and I think that has influenced the player I am now, wanting to work hard, fight, and do what it takes to get the job done.

What specific goals have you set for yourself and your team during these Olympic Games?

Making the 18 for this Olympic squad has been a very big goal for me over the past year, so I’m very proud to achieve that. Now I want to step up as a forward who can make moments happen. The Olympics is a tough tournament so it’s important to capitalise on every opportunity. My goal and our teams goal is to make it out of our group and play competitive football against some of the best teams in the world.

Can you share any memorable experiences or highlights from your time on Åland?

A big highlight for me has to be scoring against Honka at home while my boyfriend was visiting from New Zealand. Having someone to support me in the stands was really special.

How do you stay connected with your family and friends back in New Zealand while living and playing abroad?

Luckily we live in a time with social media and FaceTime, so it is nice I am able to call them when the time difference and schedules align. I am also very lucky I have such a supportive network that encourage me to do what I need to in order to achieve my long term goals.

What are you most looking forward to experiencing during the Olympics, both on and off the field?

Off the field I am so excited to be amongst such talented athletes who have all worked so hard to be there in France. It is so cool to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself and to see all the different people representing their countries proudly makes me so happy. On the field I am so excited to play with my teammates. We have such an amazing team that I am so grateful to be a part of and I feel honoured every time is get to take the field with them.

Thank you for answering all the questions and Good Luck for the games!


Interview and pictures: Sascha Zachhuber


Olympic Schedule

Football

Women's Group A


25th of July, 17:00 Canada - New Zealand (Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium)

28th of July, 17:00 New Zealand - Colombia (Lyon Stadium)

31st of July, 21:00 New Zealand - France (Lyon Stadium)

(all times in local time)




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