London 2012

Press release

Whirlwind 24 hours welcomes Rigobert to London


Natacha Rigobert was Mauritius' flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games

London, Great Britain, July 28, 2012 – It has been far from a low-key start to the London 2012 Olympic Games for Natacha Rigobert and Elodie Li Yuk Lo, the representatives of the Mauritius beach volleyball team.

On Friday night at the Olympic Stadium Rigobert was Mauritius’ flag bearer and led the Mauritius delegation out during the opening ceremony. Then less than 24 hours later she and Li Yuk Lo took on FIVB world champions and number one seeds Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta in their opening match at Horse Guard’s Parade and fell to a 21-5, 21-10 loss.

“It has been crazy, a dream,” Rigobert said. “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 one in my life.

“When I walked into the stadium today it was the same. I felt overwhelmed by the power of the Brazilian girls. Everything we tried, we couldn’t do anything they were always ahead of us.”

Rigobert’s role as flag bearer was unique for two reasons. She was the first female to carry the flag of the Indian Ocean nation of 1.3million and the pair are the first team to represent the African nation at an Olympic Games.

She was one of two beach volleyball players to be chosen as their delegation’s flag bearer. Martins Plavins was the other when he carried in Latvia’s flag during the opening ceremony and Rigobert hopes her role as flag bearer will help raise the profile of the sport in her homeland.

“I’m really proud to be the flag bearer,” she said. “I am really happy about it and happy that they chose me. Secondly I am really happy for the sport because beach volleyball is not big and this will help us get more support and helps us play more than five matches like this in a year and get better.

“It is a big stadium and it was amazing. Everything was so beautiful, the lights, the people and the fireworks, it was amazing. It was a dream, my dream.”

Rigobert and Li Yuk Lo now have two days rest to recover from their loss to Juliana and Larissa before they face the Czech Republic’s Hana Klapalova and Lenka Hajeckova in their second match, on July 30.

“I think it is a good thing to play against the first seeds first, because then you get rid of everything,” Rigobert said. “Then you get to concentrate on the next match and what you have to do and not get overwhelmed by it.”

FIVB  flag bearers at the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony

Beach Volleyball
Latvia – Martins Plavins
Mauritius – Natacha Rigobert

Volleyball
Turkey - Neslihan Darnel

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