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The stories behind the women: meet the world's first gold medal-winning rugby 7s team

They're Olympic gold medal-winning pioneers now, but there's a good chance you don't know much about the players that make up the Australian women's rugby 7s team.

After defeating New Zealand 24-17 on Monday night (Rio time), all eyes are on them.

Women's rugby 7s was only made professional in Australia in 2014; following the announcement that the sport would become a world-first Olympics event event in Rio, back in 2009. 

Like in other women's sports, many of these players have juggled careers and study while becoming top athletes. Some players are relatively new to rugby 7s, poached by rugby officials from other sports to create a world-beating Olympics team. These are their stories.

28-year-old Nicole Beck, from the town of Bulli in New South Wales, accidentally got into rugby in high school. Beck and her friends decided to put together a team after years of playing touch football and soccer, she wrote in Mamamia

In 2009, she was spotted by rugby officials after watching her performance at a touch game, inviting her to try out for the Australian rugby 7s; which she has been playing ever since.

A mother-of-one, the Australian women's rugby 7s team going professional meant Beck could dedicate more time to the sport, as she was paid a full-time wage. 

"Before this, I had been working full time, and training after work, and I also had my brand new baby girl, Sophie, to look after," she wrote in the publication. Now when Beck plays, she believes she's representing all female rugby players in Australia.

"We know we're lucky to have this opportunity and we take it very seriously – we want to make them proud," she writes.

Charlotte Caslick is considered one of the world's best women's rugby players, having scored a nomination in 2014 and 2015 for World 7s Player of the Year. The 21-year-old was born in Brisbane, Australia, part of the Australian rugby 7s team since 2009. 

Caslick hopes to work in rugby development in rural areas sometime in the future, but also admitted to SBS Zela she is still a "girly girl" at heart despite her tough play.

Hailing from Roma, Queensland, Emilee Cherry also started out in touch football when she received a letter from rugby officials asking her to try out for the national women's 7s team. 

Cherry made her debut in 2012 and hasn't looked back since, named 2014 World 7s Player of the Year after proving herself as one of the world's best in only the first few years of her career. Now a gold medal is surely the icing (and more) on the cake.

A former basketballer, 23-year-old Chloe Dalton was born in Singapore and only started playing rugby 7s in 2014. Being at an Olympics has been a lifelong dream for Dalton, who had vivid memories of the 2000 Olympics in her hometown of Sydney, Australia.

"I was all dressed up and had my face painted I think that when I decided I wanted to be an Olympian," Dalton told the Manly Daily.

Little did she expect that it would be in a completely different sport. 

It's been a massive comeback for 29-year-old Gemma Etheridge, who ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament earlier in 2016 — the third time in her rugby career. She was able to bounce back after radical LARS surgery, plus plenty of hard work to try and make it to Rio.

In July, Etheridge was given a spot in the Australian women's rugby sevens side: "So to finally hear the words and to know all that hard work and effort I had put in over those 16 weeks and I guess longer term over the two years was worth it and it was relief, and I think I cried pretty much straight away," she told ABC News.

Etheridge, alongside her sister Nikki, moved from Toowoomba, Queensland to Sydney in 2014 to chase their Olympic rugby dreams, putting their budding medical careers on hold.

Fiji-born Ellia Green, who calls Melbourne, Australia home, is a former track athlete who is another accidental convert to rugby 7s.

Green took her cousin to a talent identification camp in Melbourne in 2012, when she was asked to try out herself, according to SBS Zela. Ellia then found herself being asked to train with the main group in Canberra, leaving a sprinting career that had been a part of her life since she was eight. 

A former full fifteen-a-side rugby player, Shannon Parry made the switch to sevens in 2013 where she is now co-captain of the Australian women's rugby sevens team. 

Parry was born in Brisbane, Australia, where she is also a qualified secondary school teacher and surfs when she isn't playing rugby. 

One of the youngest in the squad, 21-year-old Evania Pelite is another convert from touch football, making the transition to rugby 7s when she was only 17. Originally from Queensland, Pelite made the move straight after high school to further her burgeoning rugby sevens career.

"I came down (to Sydney) in 2014 when I was 17 turning 18, and it was very difficult. I'm from a large family, I'm the eldest of six children. Leaving all my siblings behind was very hard," Pelite told SBS Zela.

Alicia Quirk also made the switch from touch football, but admitted to finding the transition to a more physical game a real challenge. 

"I come from a touch football background, so I struggled with the physicality of the game initially and it took me a while to get around that mindset of 'I've got to try and stop someone who is running one hundred miles an hour at me'," Quirk told Seven, who moved to the sport in 2013.

Quirk prepared for the Rio Olympics while also finishing off the final year of her physiotherapy degree, while also trying to pick up Portuguese. 

21-year-old Emma Tonegato is also one of the youngest members of the Australian women's 7s squad, but has already plenty of experience having played rugby league since she was 16; switching to rugby 7s in 2013. 

A native from the city of Wollongong, Tonegato was instrumental to Australia's Olympic success by scoring a try in the gold medal game against New Zealand.

Amy Turner made the right choice, that is if you are an Australian. Turner is from the North Island of New Zealand where she grew up playing rugby league, then moved over to Mount Isa, Queensland where she drove trucks in the mines while balancing her rugby commitments. 

Turner would fly in to Sydney to train with the professional squad roughly a week or so before tournaments, then return home where she would work and train alone at the same time, according to Fairfax Media. 

Two years out from the Rio Olympics, the 32-year-old decided to quit her job and move to Sydney to become a professional sevens player; despite the money not being as good as their male counterparts.

"Every time I came back to Sydney the girls were just getting better and better every week, so I didn’t want to get left behind," Turner told SBS Zela, who now describes it as the "best job in the world."

Sharni Williams grew up wanting to play for Australia's hockey team in the Olympics, but the former Canberra mechanic was persuaded to play rugby XVs; eventually leading her to become the co-captain of the national sevens team at the Olympics.

Williams can't put down the tools however, she still services her teammate's cars in the garage of her Sydney apartment whenever she isn't training or playing rugby, according to Fairfax Media.

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