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Fit, Strong, and Ready, Martin Iosefo Brings Skills to Team USA

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Fit, Strong, and Ready, Martin Iosefo Brings Skills to Team USA

Martin Iosefo leaving a tackler in his wake in Los Angeles. David Barpal photo.

Martin Iosefo came into this spring/summer USA 7s team assembly in the best shape of his life, and he is poised to make a big impact in Tokyo.

The Flyn’ Hawaiian was forced, like his teammates, to take time off during the COVID pandemic in 2020. For Iosefo, that time off coincided with his desire to re-format his training, and also support his wife’s career.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve tries different things in my training,” Iosefo told Goff Rugby Report. “but I’ve been working with [USA Head of Physical Performance] John Hood and looked for ways to challenge myself.”

At the same time, Iosefo’s wife, Danielle, was growing her fitness company, Iron Pineapple Fitness (ironpineapplefitness.com), and Martin started participating in her virtual workouts.

“I was doing most of her classes, which was three times a day,” he said. “It was intense but it was, like, one of my main things while we were shut down. All of that just carried on into the season.”

A Mental Thing

Back with the USA team Iosefo also checked in with the team’s sports psychologists to address the mental aspect of pushing yourself to the limit.

“When we’re doing a lot of conditioning or chaos rugby sessions, when you’re pushing yourself through that fatigue level you have to be able to know that your body’s going to adapt and you need to control that fight or flight feeling and trust your own training.”

Mentally and physically, Iosefo emerged stronger, and he’s also become a leader.

An Isolated Olympics

Now with the USA team in Mimasaka preparing for the Olympics, Iosefo sees that mental strength to be a key asset.

“We are doing the most that we can from what we’ve been given,” he said. “We’re really unable to do anything outside of the hotel where we’re staying other than training on the field and in the gym.  

“You definitely feel it in the sense of missing out on the parts of the Games like when you get to meet the big sports names—we were fortunate in Rio, we got to see some of those athletes like Michael Phelps who were around every day. That’s such a great experience to be a part of something so much bigger than  yourself. Yes that’s something we miss out on this time, but for me, as a group getting focused and going into this big event, this is not bad at all. You’re here to compete and do your best, and being in this kind of environment, with this really nice facility and a great rugby pitch that is identical to what we’ll be playing on in Tokyo, this is good.”

So this gives the players time to work together without distractions.

“We know each other well, we’ve been playing together for a long time, and that’s a really good thing,” said Iosefo. “The guys who have been in the last Olympics have a wealth of experience. And they are part of the evolution of us as a team that’s helped us build to the success we had two years ago.”

Iosefo acknowledges that last season was a rocky one for the USA team, but he says the pieces are all there.

Iron Sharpens Iron

“We’re still considered a top four team; I consider us one of the best. We have the two-time, back-to-back world’s best player, we’ve got two of the fastest guys in world sevens. We’ve got other guys who are some of the best at the game at their position, and even the fresh blood coming through are guys who’ve been in the World Series.”

For Iosefo, he has to be considered one of the top players on the globe. A power runner with finesse who can also get up in the air, his improved fitness and new role as a team leader have made him a huge part of this USA team.

“I like to break the line and have a playmaking role, and I like having the arial skills too, but it’s really down to how many good players we have,” he explained. “When you’re competing at the breakdown and you’re competing against Pinky, Danny, or Folau, you competing against some of the best. When you’re chasing down the fastest guys in rugby 7s, you know now what it takes. We’re fortunate to have those guys to compete against every day.”