As the curtains close on her Olympic career, paramedic Jo Brigden-Jones has given the ultimate compliment to NSW Ambulance and the organisation’s role in getting her to Tokyo.
“I don’t think I would have got to this Olympics without having my paramedic career alongside it,” she said.
“Mentally, I don’t think I could have just focused on paddling. It has been really beneficial having a career outside it.
“It’s also because of the managers who helped to rearrange my shifts and get a roster to make it work for me.”
Jo finishes her glittering international sporting career as a two-time Olympic kayaker, representing Australia at the 2012 London Olympics before competing in the Tokyo Games earlier this month.
In Tokyo, Jo made the semi-final of the K2-500m and the final of the K4-500m.
“The K4-500m was our priority race and I was pretty pleased with the result,” she said.
“Once we were in the race we executed everything the best we could.”
Despite the lack of crowds, Jo said the competition venue and Olympic Village still delivered in providing a special, memorable atmosphere.
“The whole experience was pretty awesome,” she said.
“I remember thinking at the closing ceremony, this is the coolest place to be right now.
“It was really special being in the Olympic Village knowing the best of the best were there, especially with what everyone has been going through with the pandemic in the past 18 months.”
For Jo, one of the most special moments of the Games was making the K4-500m final.
Jo’s crew pipped France for the final spot by less than .1 of a second, which was particularly sweet given France beat Jo’s crew by a similar margin for a spot in the London final.
Another highlight for her was seeing all of the national flags lined up in the Olympic Village, which led to a monument featuring the Olympic rings.
Ahead of returning to work as a paramedic, Jo wanted to once again thank her NSW Ambulance family for the support and kind words before and during her Olympics campaign.
“Thanks to everyone who supported me,” she said.
“It has been a pretty massive journey. When I started my career in NSW Ambulance in 2016 I thought I would never paddle again, but it’s through my career I stepped back into paddling and pursued my Olympic dream again.
“I think you can achieve anything if you want it bad enough.
“If you want something in your career, and it doesn’t have to be sport, you can make it happen if you set your goals and work hard to achieve them.”
And if anyone knows that best, it’s a two-time Olympian who is also an emergency services worker.