During the 2000 Sydney Olympics, a seven-year-old Rachel Jarry drew a picture of Australian basketball phenomenon Lauren Jackson with a goal scribbled out at the bottom that read along the lines of wanting to “be like Lauren” and represent the Australian Opals on the world’s biggest stage.
Sixteen years later, Jarry is preparing to compete at her second Olympic Games, at the age of just 24.
“To achieve the lifelong dream twice now is pretty amazing,” Jarry told Star Weekly.
“This time I probably appreciate a bit more because of the sacrifices I had to make and hard work I had to do to get there. I feel like I’m a little bit prouder to have made my second one and obviously just looking forward to Rio and getting out there and getting the job done with the team.”
Jarry is the kind of player you want on your side and not staring down from the opposite end of the court.
Her game is built around defence and she has mastered it.
What makes Jarry so valuable is her ability to guard multiple positions from shooting guard to power forward.
“My versatility is a huge part of my role in the team,” Jarry said.
“My ability to play three different positions, I don’t think anyone else in our team will be doing that, so that’s a bonus for me.
“Defence is a huge role of mine and something I’ve prided myself on in my Australian career.
“I’ll also be looking to compliment some of the stars in our team when it’s my time to score.”
Jarry has travelled the world to play basketball at elite levels, but she has not forgotten her roots.
You can tell the pride in her voice when she starts talking about her upbringing in the western suburbs.
She grew up in Spotswood and attended Wembley Primary School in Yarraville.
While basketball came on the radar for Jarry around her primary school years, it was not the only sport catching her eye.
“I love all sports and played a heap of different ones growing up,” she said. “I’ll watch AFL, cricket, whatever is on the TV, I’ll give it a watch.
“I’m hoping to get out and watch a few other sports at the Olympics as well.”
The decision to start playing in the juniors with the Altona Gators at the age of nine is one that shaped her sporting destiny. She credits the Gators coaches for giving her the tools she needed to make a career out of the game.
By the time she was in her teens at Williamstown High School, Jarry was showing huge potential.
She would represent Australia at under-16, under-18 and under-20 levels, while also picking up a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport, which meant her VCE would be completed in Canberra.
All roads pointed to the London 2012 Olympics for Jarry and she was part of an Opals team that went on to win a bronze medal.
Jarry relished the Olympic dream first time around and believes it was a great learning curve for Rio. She has just signed a contract with Basket Lattes, a team in the French league based in Montpellier.
She has played at the top level in Australia for WNBL clubs as well as professionally for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA in the United States, where her team won the title.