Fiji Time: 8:41 PM on Saturday 25 June

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Value of an Olympic ticket

Fred Wesley
Saturday, June 25, 2016

YESTERDAY'S front page picture of international sports superstar Jarryd Hayne quenching his thirst by downing coconut juice was special.

It is a picture of a man who has lived the life of a rich athlete. He's travelled the world playing in some of the richest and most demanding competitions. He's dined with the rich and famous.

In Australia, he commanded respect on the rugby league field. He earned mega bucks and lived the rich lifestyle.

He could afford things. He could buy what he wanted.

He attracted the big bucks and thousands of league fans followed his every move.

They celebrated with him when he scored one of his many tries, and they rode on the euphoria generated by the Hayne Plane.

He represented New South Wales in the tough State of Origin and played for the Australian Kangaroos at the highest level of rugby league.

There was shock when he turned his back on all this to head to a relatively unknown territory, at least for him, when he tried out for the 49ers in American football.

He showed glimpses of the brilliance that league fans appreciated, coming off with a number of strong runs in his early appearances.

And just when you thought nothing else could surprise fans, he turned that down to try out for the national sevens side leading up to the London 7s last month.

Into a new game, he headed. And national coach Ben Ryan, obviously relishing the thought of experimenting with a superstar of his calibre, gently blooded him into the highly intensive world of international sevens.

It seems that brief stint has inspired Hayne.

He flew off to Sydney after London, and hit the road. He looked trimmer when he marched into camp at Deuba last week.

He was hungry and you could sense the commitment and enthusiasm to prove critics wrong.

His journey hasn't been all rosy.

But there can be doubts about the commitment and passion that must be instilled in every member of our Olympic team to Rio.

Hayne obviously knows his megastar status means nothing right now. He's had no qualms about shedding his top rated status to come home to his people, to train with the national sevens team, and live the life of a Fijian rugger, plain, pure and simple. Nothing is guaranteed, not even a spot for him to Rio.

But he's lean, mean, and reminds us of what is expected of individual athletes aspiring for a spot to the premier sporting event on the planet. There is value in an Olympic ticket.

This is a one-time shot at glory. Preparation matters. Fitness standards will be of the highest level ever. Rio beckons and only those who are willing to shed blood, sweat and tears will have the opportunity to mix it with the world's premier sportsmen and women. Perhaps there is a lesson here for us.

Team Fiji needs our support. Go Fiji, go.

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