Africawas represented in thewomen’s Olympic beach volleyball
competition by Mauritius for the first time at London 2012 and
the whole experience was a blast for Natacha Rigobert from
start to finish.
First, she was Mauritius’s flag bearer and led her nation’s delegation
out during the Opening Ceremony. Then, less than 24 hours later, she
and partner Elodie Li Yuk Lo took on FIVB world champions and No.1
seeds Larissa França and Juliana Felisberta in their opening match at
Horse Guards Parade. And as if that was not enough, Rigobert was
chosen once more to carry her country’s flag at the Closing Ceremony
to cap a memorable fortnight.
“It has been crazy, a dream,” Rigobert said after the match against
Larissa and Juliana which they lost 21-5, 21-10. “I feel like I have been
walking and dreaming while I’ve been awake. It’s fantastic. Yesterday
I was so overwhelmed by the emotions of carrying the flag. I’ve
never been in a stadium as huge as that in my life. Everything was so
beautiful, the lights, the people and the fireworks, it was amazing. It
was a dream, my dream.”
Rigobert, who qualified for the Games with Li Yuk Lo by winning the
CAVB Beach Volleyball Continental Cup in Rwanda in May, was the
first female to carry the flag for the Indian Ocean nation and she hopes
her role will help raise the profile of her sport in her homeland. “I’m
really proud to be the flag bearer,” she said, “and I’m really happy for
the sport because beach volleyball is not big in Mauritius and this will
help us get more support.”
Flag-bearer Rigobert
puts Mauritius on the map
Defeats by Hana Klapalova and Lenka Hajeckova of the Czech Republic
and Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany brought an end
to the Olympic adventure for Rigobert and Li Yuk Lo, who met by
chance four years ago in the tribunes at a beach volleyball tournament
in Cannes because they were both, appropriately enough, waving a
Mauritius flag.
Later in 2008 they took part in their first competition for Mauritius, in
Norway, and they continued to participate in some international events
together until the start of the CAVB Continental Cup. The pair are
based in Nice, France, and compete regularly on the FIVB SWATCH
World Tour.
Natacha Rigobert and Elodie Li Yuk Lo qualified for the Olympics thanks to
the Continental Cup
Proudly carrying the flag for Mauritius at the Opening Ceremony
Rigobert and Li Yuk Lo (receiving) have been playing on the
FIVB SWATCH World Tour since 2008
‘Everything was so beautiful,
the lights, the people and the
fireworks, it was amazing.
It was a dream, my dream’