Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016 – Olympic newcomers Argentina, Cameroon and Puerto Rico may have ended their journey in the tournament, but they will cherish a lot of memorable moments from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“It has been a unique experience for each one of us since we arrived here twelve days ago,” Argentina setter Yael Castiglione said. “It is an unforgettable moment for everyone.”
Argentina recorded a thrilling victory in the preliminary round against Cameroon. The South American made a great comeback in the fifth set after trailing the African team for most parts of the deciding set. When they snatched the lead at 14-13, Lucia Fresco scored an amazing ace to give her team a historic first win in the Olympic Games.
“It was a great feeling, a huge thrill to close a match that way,” Fresco said. I would say it is the biggest ace of my life – an ace that gave my team its first ever Olympic victory.”
Fresco’s coach Guillermo Orduna is contented with his players’ performance and is pleased of the promising outlook for his squad.
“We have shown great growth – game after game,” Orduna said. “We found our level of play and I am satisfied with our Olympic debut.”
Argentina’s Olympic experience painted a picture of bliss.
“The image that will remain with me for the rest of my life is stepping into the court for our first Olympic match,” Castiglione said. “It was also an honour to take part in the opening ceremony. The experience was surreal.”
Puerto Rico’s top scorer Karina Ocasio will bid farewell to the national team after the Olympic Games. Ocasio feels that this was the highlight of her athletic career.
“This was my last match with the national team,” Ocasio said. “It was a good way to close my career with the team at the Olympics.”
Ocasio helped her team qualify through the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“We had a great journey to the Olympic Games,” Ocasio said. “It has been a great experience to be surrounded by so many elite athletes.”
Cameroon’s presence in the Olympic Games have brought in so much colour and delight to the crowd at Maracanazinho. Their pre-game rituals and great spirit in matches have raised the energy in the stadium, making them the crowd favourites.
“Everything here in Rio 2016 is gold,” Cameroon captain Nana Tchoudjang said. “This was such a good tournament for us. First, we played against the biggest teams in the world. We are happy because we enjoyed it a lot, but also sad because it’s the end of the journey for us. Second, the people who gave us the biggest joy every time we stepped in the court.”
Tchoudjang was emotional, as she recalled her team’s connection with the crowd in Rio 2016.
“We want to thank the Brazilian supporters because they made us feel at home,” Tchoudjang said. “They were all with us all the way in this tournament. I only have one thing to say to them – muito obrigada, Brazil.”