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07th Aug 2021

Olympian with no sponsors worked at supermarket to fund her Tokyo 2020 dream

From talking to customers to taking on Tokyo – Riley Day is a true Olympic icon.

Australian Olympian Riley Day is exactly what people mean when they refer to grass-roots sports. She flew to Tokyo 2020 with no corporate sponsors to fund her expenses, pay for coaches, and finance expenditures that all athletes have to account for when fighting to compete.

Day worked at Woolworths for three years, where she saved every pay check to fund her Olympics campaign. Though the 21-year-old didn’t qualify for the final, her story has inspired legions of fans and sparked a loyal social media following.

While speaking to Channel 7’s Bruce McAvaney, she screamed ‘holy s**t’ into the microphone when discussing her performance.

“That was a much better race than this morning. I’ve got my groove. Now I hope it’s the fastest heat so I can get in the final. Because that is a massive PB. That’s awesome,” she said.

“I want to be the best and nothing is going to stop me from being the best.”

“I mean, if you do want to follow my story, my Instagram is _rileyday, that is where I post most of my stuff,” she said. “So, if you want to follow along, that is where it is.”

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A post shared by Riley Day (@_rileyday)

As a result, Day tripled her Instagram following.

“C’mon Australia, get behind this young lady!” said Channel 7’s Jason Richardson.

“I’m going to embarrass you, we want Australia to start supporting you. You’re working at Woolies in the produce section. I know you do the shopping for John who’s 90 and he can’t see, and you do that every week. You’ve got a big heart, you don’t have a sponsor.”

Her workplace also shared an endearing message on LinkedIn: “Our very own team member, Riley Day, is proudly representing Australia at the Tokyo Olympics. We’ll be cheering her on in the 200-meter sprint today.

“Riley is an adored team member of our Beaudesert store in regional Queensland and is known for going the extra mile for our customers. For the past 18 months, she’s helped 90-year-old local John (pictured with Riley), who is visually impaired, with his weekly shop. She’s even memorised his grocery list and calls him on Sundays if he doesn’t turn up for his weekly shop.

“When the ambitious 21-year-old, nicknamed the “Beaudesert Bullet” is not replenishing stock or helping our customers, she’s working tirelessly on the track, training for at least three hours a day, six days a week.

“We’re proud to see one of our team members represent Australia on the world stage. Good luck Riley, we can’t wait to see you on the track!”