Bennett can’t believe Olympic success

Date published: August 15 2016

Glasgow Warriors centre Mark Bennett took on the world with Team GB and emerged with a silver medal, after reaching the final, beating South Africa and New Zealand along the way.

Following the end of last season, Bennett had his sights set on a ticket to Rio and after weeks of hard work in London where he took part in a training camp, he was selected.

Over in Brazil, the Warriors centre has been mixing with the superstars and is elated to return home with something to show for his efforts.

“10 weeks ago if you said I could have a silver medal I would have bitten your arm off for it so I’m absolutely delighted,” Bennet told the official Glasgow Warriors website.

“The day after we’d won it I did an interview on TV and one of my friends took a picture of it. Underneath me it said ‘Mark Bennett, Silver Medallist.’ I read it and thought to myself, ‘that’s pretty cool’.

“The number of messages I’ve had from everyone has been mental. The support has been great.

“The atmosphere at the stadium itself was incredible even though it wasn’t full.

“More often than not everyone was cheering against us which was quite good fun. We managed to build our own atmosphere off the back of that, with the aim of silencing them.

“The support we got in the village was brilliant as well. After our games when we were walking around everyone in Team GB kit would come up and say ‘well done lads, you really deserved that’. The amount of support we’ve had in here has been overwhelming.”

Bennett has experienced humble beginnings in Ayrshire, attending Cumnock Academy, playing at the local rugby club before turning out for Ayr which led to signing for Warriors along with a spell in Clermont. He was even nominated as World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year following the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

Having experienced a huge amount at such a young age, even Bennett has been taken aback by the size of Rio 2016.

“The whole village is huge and a different scale to what I imagined. The food hall is huge and seems like it’s the biggest tent in the world,” he said.

“The best quote I’ve heard to describe it was when I was walking about with Mark Robertson and he compared it to Jurassic Park as everything is all shapes and sizes.

“We’ve seen Usain Bolt and he was getting absolutely hounded for selfies. I felt a bit sorry for him as he was just trying to have his dinner. He couldn’t get a minute of peace to eat it!

“It’s been great fun.”

In the Olympic Final, Bennett was up against a former teammate and a familiar face for the Warrior Nation in the shape of Leone Nakarawa.

Nakarawa shone in the showpiece event and helped his side run out comfortable winners. Despite being on the losing side, Bennett enjoyed taking on the offloading king.

He said: “There’s nothing you can do to stop him when he gets going. I tried to get one tackle on him and he got a big fend on me while throwing the ball away to a teammate.

“I’m delighted for him that he won Gold as they thoroughly deserved it.

“I saw him afterwards and we swapped shirts which was nice.

“I also caught up with both Carlin (Isles) and Folau which was good but I think they (USA) were a bit disappointed not to get as far as they’d hoped.”

While the nation has been watching the Olympics in awe, Bennett has been living in amongst it all and is prepared for the inevitable demand to see him and his new medal when he arrives home.