Prior to Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh crowning their
achievements by wrapping up their third gold medal in London,
one half of their predecessors as women’s Olympic beach
volleyball champions called time on her own glittering career.
Australia’s Natalie Cook won Olympic gold on home sand with Kerri
Pottharst on Bondi Beach at Sydney 2000. Four years earlier, at Atlanta
1996, they won bronze and Cook also has an FIVBWorld Championship
bronze medal in her locker from 2003.
Competing at her fifth Olympic Games in London, Cook took her final
bow when she and Tamsin Hinchley were eliminated at the end of pool
play with a loss to the Czech Republic’s Marketa Slukova and Kristyna
Kolocova in their final match. Looking back over her lengthy time in the
sport, the memories of the Sydney 2000 gold medal match remain as
vivid as ever for Cook.
“I remember it very clearly and I think I will for the rest of my life,”
she said. “September 25, 2000, 2.30 in the afternoon. I remember
where the ball landed, where my family was sitting, what emotions I
was going through in my body. Standing on top of the podium, singing
‘Advance Australia Fair’, it is the greatest moment in an athlete’s career,
hence I continued to play to try to have that again.”
“It changed my life. The day after the final I was on a stamp and
everybody in Australia knew who I was. Winning in your own country
is something you can never, ever understand until it happens. I am
now a household name and beach volleyball and Natalie Cook seem
to go together.”
Cook bids
farewell with
2020 vision
Natalie Cook, posing with Australian fans outside the Olympic venue
Showing off autographed balls in recognition of having participated in every
beach volleyball competition at the Olympic Games. Cook’s five Olympics is a
record for an Australian woman