30.06.2019 - Hamburg
You’ve just played an idol of yours and she’s beaten you by a scoreline that makes World Championship history for the heaviest defeat.
Yet Maita Cousin and Marie Nathalie Letendrie of Mauritius were smiling so much you would have just thought it was them that had won and not lost 21-2, 21-2 at the World Championships in Hamburg on Sunday morning.
The pair from Mauritius are just happy to be here to enjoy the experience and sharing the sand with Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat was a dream for the pair who play beach volleyball for fun back home on Mauritius.
“It’s an honor for us – not to lose 21-2, 21-2 – but to play Kerri, Brooke, Artacho and Clancy and the world-class, big professionals of the sport,” says mother-of-two Maita.
“I am an admin manager and work in an office all day and go to training for two hours after. It’s a hobby for me and I’m excited to be here at this big event and share the experience.”
Marie, who had support in the stands in the shape of her young niece, works in HR and qualified with another partner having finishing second in the African Nations Cup in Nigeria.
Cousin therefore is enjoying her unexpected taste of top-level beach volleyball and was thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to Kerri after the game.
“She’s amazing, very kind, very friendly, she asked about my kids,” she said. “They are players we look up to, we see them on YouTube and on television and all of a sudden you’re standing next to them, playing against them.”
The victory for Kerri and Brooke was an important one: they go into their group decider against Australians Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy on Monday knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the elimination phase.
However, three-time champion Walsh Jennings wanted to pay tribute to the pair from the tiny island in the Indian Ocean.
“It was awesome, they showed up and made us work, we had to scramble a few times but I love mothers – or anyone – who is chasing a dream,” said the 40-year-old.
“They showed courage. They’re playing against full-time professionals and I think they represented their country very well.
“I don’t think they will look at the scoreline but they should be proud. They worked hard. I just love the humans behind the athletes. For me it’s inspiring and so rad to see what’s possible.”