I Came To Rio Because I Love Sport, And I Was Not Disappointed

Tonight, I got to watch one of my childhood heroes win gold.

15/08/2016 2:13 PM AEST | Updated 17/08/2016 10:53 AM AEST
Jessica Rigas
Rio, don't let the haters get you down.

I love sport. Like, I really love sport. I love doing it, I love coaching it and I love watching it. So you can only imagine how I feel every four years when it's Olympic time.

When I was younger I was right into athletics. My friday nights were spent at Little Athletics, training and competing with some of my (now) best friends. That's the thing about sport, it really brings people together.

Jessica Rigas
Pig-tails were my signature athletics 'do.

I also played netball and still coach my little cousin's team. Then there was soccer, and now I play basketball. But athletics was my first true (sport) love. Obviously, this also meant I was a Usain Bolt fan. I mean, who isn't a Usain Bolt fan?

When I was lucky enough to get tickets to the men's 100m final at Rio 2016 Olympics, I knew I had to make it work. Sure, I'd just finished university and started a full-time job, but this is the Olympics! I hadn't been since the 2000 Games in Sydney and I'd never been to Brazil before.

I also scored tickets to watch Australia Vs. China in basketball (I got on TV!), a couple of beach volleyball matches and a soccer game. All of which were incredible.

Jessica Rigas
Yeah, Australia!

But tonight, I got to watch one of my childhood heroes win gold.

I haven't slept since... I can't even remember. Partying with locals leaves little time for rest. But sleep was the last thing on my mind when Usain Bolt walked onto the track for the men's 100m final. The crowd, myself included, went wild. We were about to watch the fastest man alive attempt to win his third consecutive gold medal at the Olympics.

I felt nervous. More nervous than I ever remember feeling when I competed myself, though that's probably not the case. Eleven-year-old me wasn't nearly as cool as Usain Bolt. But I felt like I had a lot invested in this win -- even though I barely knew him.

I'd met him once, by chance. It was back in 2014 when Sydney still had a nightlife and Hugos existed. My friends had met him earlier and introduced me. We shook hands, which quickly turned into a thumb war, which I lost. But losing to Usain Bolt doesn't really feel like losing. It just feels like Usain Bolt winning. Which he does a lot of, tonight included.

Jessica Rigas
Usain Bolt and I when we met in 2014.

The race was everything I had hoped it would be. All 9.8 seconds of it. There was a moment of panic when Bolt started slow, followed by relief when he won and then pure joy as he celebrated as only Usain Bolt does.

I'm so glad I came to Rio. Getting to see Bolt run in real life has to be one of my favourite new memories. So thanks for delivering, Rio and don't let the haters get you down -- because if my experience is anything to go by, you're going to have a lot of happy customers.

Jessica Rigas

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