Olympic champ Charlotte Caslick: Rugby queen, influencer and much more
Charlotte Caslick is one of the best-known faces in Australian women’s sport.
The former touch football international burst to prominence at the Rio 2016 Olympics, where her try-scoring exploits helped Australia to rugby sevens’ first Olympic gold medal.
Caslick’s searing speed and tireless work ethic were also rewarded with the 2016 World Rugby Player of the Year award.
Off the pitch, her Instagram following swelled from a pre-Olympic 5000, to a whopping 70,000 just three days after sealing the gold medal.
Sponsors have clambered to be associated with her ever since, and that following has inflated to over 100,000 these days.
A rugby role model
Rugby sevens exploded Down Under after Rio, as did the Brisbane native’s profile.
Record numbers of inspired girls signed up to give rugby sevens a go, and Caslick’s trademark braids and ribbons became ubiquitous. She had become a role model.
“There is nothing better than being able to inspire young girls. I wish I got to grow up watching girls play rugby at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games,” Caslick to the Courier Mail
Alongside her sponsor work, the 25-year-old regularly posts videos of her relentless training regimes and commitment to living a healthy life - be that on the beaches of New South Wales where she trains, or back home on her Queensland ranch.
Positive influence beyond rugby
Caslick’s positive influence has extended way beyond the rugby field.
In 2018, She travelled to Laos as an ambassador for ChildFund Pass it Back, a programme that raises funds to improve education and healthcare in some of the world’s poorest communities.
Later that year, she raised funds to help farmers recover from the devastating north Queensland floods, which caused years of destruction to infrastructure and livestock.
More recently, she took part in the Bushfire 7s, a rugby sevens tournament played in order to raise funds and spirits in Braidwood - a town in New South Wales that was decimated by Australia’s bushfires.
Over 600 men, women, boys and girls turned up to play in the event, including the Australian men’s rugby sevens captain - and Caslick’s fiancé - Lewis Holland.
King and Queen of Australian rugby
Unsurprisingly, Caslick and Holland have been labelled by some as Australian rugby’s power couple.
The pair met in 2013 while training for the Rugby Sevens World Cup, and seven years on, own a farm in Queensland where they are currently residing in isolation together.
Spending so much time together in one place must feel quite out of the ordinary for a couple used to the hectic travel schedule of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
“We kind of like being separate,” Caslick said about life on tour.
“When we go on tour it’s our nice time away from each other. We like to hang out with our friends.”
Once they have hung up their rugby boots, the couple refused to rule out becoming full time cattle farmers.
There is no better example of the impact Caslick has had on rugby, than when the couple visit school rugby matches.
“They know who Lewis and I are, and all the schoolboys want us to come and watch them," Caslick told HuffPost Australia.
Young schoolboy rugby players would typically seek affirmation from their male heroes, but Caslick’s talent and popularity mean the boys now have female rugby heroes they most look up to as well.
While the Aussie men could only manage a quarter-final exit at Rio 2016, Holland will be hopeful of adding another medal to the family mantlepiece at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, to sit alongside Caslick’s Olympic gold medal.
Regaining full fitness for Tokyo 2020
Australia pipped New Zealand in the Rio 2016 women’s final, but their antipodean rivals have since become the No. 1 team in the world, winning the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, and the 2018-19 world series.
But if there’s one thing ultra-competitive Caslick loves, it’s a challenge.
For now, she’ll quietly continue working on her fitness, having recently returned from a debilitating injury.
But an extra year for their talisman to regain full fitness could be exactly the type of boost Australia need to retain their Olympic title.