Mauritius Beach team dreams of the Olympics

22 February 2012

“Our real start will be in London,” Natasha
 In few months, Mauritius Beach Volleyball pairing of Natasha Rigobert/ Elodie Li Youklo have become the most famous team in Africa not only because that cooperative team was one of 8 teams in Africa searching for the Olympic berth when they compete at the finals of the CAVB Continental Cup next June, but also because they were the gold medallists of the first ever Beach volleyball event to be held at the All Africa Games in Mozambique 2011.
 In the history of All Africa Games that started in 1965 in Brazzaville, Congo and till the ninth edition in Alger 2007 only indoor volleyball competitions were organised till the organizing committee introduced beach volleyball in the programme at the tenth edition in Maputo, Mozambique 2011 where 12 African countries competed for the medals.
 Mauritius pair Natasha Rigobert and Elodie Li Youklo had the honor to be the first ever gold medalists at this prestigious event after they defeated all the teams till they saw off South Africa in a thrilling finals which was televised all over the continent.
 “We didn’t expect to get this honour when we started together playing beach as a team with my partner Elodie Li in 2008,” said Mauritius star Natasha Rigobert upon receiving the gold medal.
 “When we defeated South Africa to get the first ever gold medal I didn’t realize that our dreams will be a reality very quickly like this,” remembered the Li the 3 years passed since she met Natasha for the first time.
 “It was exciting that we met accidently together in Cannes, France in 2008 where we were attending a match together and we were both carrying the Mauritian flag in the tribune. I went directly to introduce myself to Natasha,” added Li.
 “We had become friends before we know that both of us started to practice volleyball and we decided to make a team together and start the participation in the international beach volleyball competitions. As we are working together in France it was easy for both of us to practice regularly.”
 In 2008 it was the first competition for Mauritius pairing to compete in Norway and it was the first also under their flag. They continued to participate in some international circuits together till the start of the CAVB Continental Cup which is the qualifying process for 2012 London Olympic Games.
 “The continental Cup was a real implementation of beach volleyball activity in Africa and when we started playing in the sub zonal phase we felt proud to win the first competition in the African soil. It was in Namibia and at that time we decided to continue till we can get the African berth at the Olympics,” added Natasha and Li.
 After losing the zonal phase final in Mozambique to the host country it was the first time that Natasha cried heavily with the tears dropping into the soil after the final match but she realized that she will come again to the same place the following month for the All Africa Games.
 Natasha said to the journalists after the drawing of lots in Maputo that she is ready to cry another time in Mozambique. “This time I’m going to cry of joy after we top the podium with the gold medals,” commented Natasha.
 “Now we have our eyes concentrating on the qualification to the Olympic Games when we play the final next June and at that time we will feel that we achieved something for our country. After we won the gold medal we received a call from the Mauritian Minister of Sport while we were sweating after the final and we promised him with the Olympic ticket.” Said Mauritius pair.
 The Mauritian double wants to see Africa with a lot of beach volleyball courts because it is the future of the sport in the continent. “We need to see a lot of courts like this quality of Costa Do Sol Arena in Mozambique capital Maputo.”



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