To suggest these past 12 months have been anything but exhilarating would be a gross understatement.

My life has changed in more ways than I could have ever imagined, and all for the better.

I suppose an Olympic gold medal will do that to a person.

Looking back on these four years, change has been a constant, but one thing that has remained throughout that time is my arduous work ethic and hunger to be my very best.

Every world series is a testament to how hard I have had to work just to get to this point. All the challenges I’ve faced, and what I’ve overcome in my life is why I am the person I am today.

Evania Pelite

What I have enjoyed most is the change I am helping to drive as a female Rugby 7’s player – nothing compares to having young girls come up and ask for your picture & autograph because of how much we are admired.

Fans, and members of the wider public often ask me what does it mean to win the first Olympic gold medal for the sport?

It really has been a huge honour, because when we headed over to Rio for the games it wasn’t even about really winning the gold medal as much as it was exposing the sport to the rest of the world while inspiring the next generation of girls.

Even before the Rugby 7’s were created, I always dreamed of representing Australia at an olympic games.

Of course, at the time it wasn’t a realistic goal, as my junior sport-of-choices rugby league & touch football were not Olympic recognised.

To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of rugby 7’s until I was 17 years old.

I’m glad I made the switch when I did though.

When I’m on a rugby field, I’m 100% locked in – it’s as if everything else is blocked out for those 14 minutes.

And away from the field, I am doing everything I possibly can to be in the best possible shape, physically & mentally.

All in all, I absolutely love what rugby has given to me.

So I did really grab the opportunity with both hands when I made the switch, and was lucky enough to realise a young girl’s’ dream of not just heading to an olympic games, but winning the gold medal as well.

So it has meant a lot to pioneer the sport, and us Aussie girls are out to make a real impact.

I feel we’re only scratching the surface of our potential – we have an abundance of talent across our squad, but we’re now relishing with more structured and directed play.

And if our dominant showing at the first leg of the World Series in Dubai is anything to go by, the timing couldn’t be more perfect, ahead of next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games & 7’s World Cup in San Francisco.

Dubai was definitely a confident booster, but we certainly can’t be falling under any illusions that we can walk into 2018 as favourites and win every major tournament.

The competition is too even and hard-fought; it would be impudent for any nation to gain a false sense of security right now.

Evania Pelite

For us, we have to make the most of every major tournament, and I didn’t feel as though our recent success in Dubai was a direct correlation to how we performed on the field, and as teammates in the locker rooms.

It was one of the best world series I have ever been a part of – the whole time, when we weren’t training our backsides off in the cardio room, we were singing and dancing like there was no tomorrow.

Each of us really embraced the atmosphere – I really do hope it’s an indication of how the next 12 months will look.

Personally, my ultimate goal right now is to make sure I’m part of the Commonwealth Games – winning an Olympic gold medal is a pinnacle for any sportsperson, but there is something incredible special at the thought of representing your country at a major games in your own backyard.

For me, that would really cap of an amazing two years, and strengthen my goal of reaching the World Cup.

Evania Pelite

Evania Pelite is an Australian rugby sevens player, and a member of the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medal team.

Evania is a dual international, having also represented Australia in touch football.

She is one of the finest athletes in world rugby.