02.07.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
Nicaragua’s first participation at the Beach Volleyball World Championships lasted just four days, but the memories of the time Lolette Rodriguez and Valeria Mendoza spent with the sport’s elite at the Rothenbaum Stadium in Hamburg will be forever on their minds.
The Central Americans lost all of their three pool play matches and didn’t get anywhere winning a single set, but that was the least important thing for them. Just by qualifying to the most important event of the season, Rodriguez and Mendoza, who have full-time jobs as accountant and lawyer respectively, had more than enough reason to feel proud of themselves.
“To us, this is really a dream and each minute has been special,” Rodriguez explained. “It’s by the far the biggest event we’ve been at and it took us the 15 years we’ve been playing and a lot of sacrifice to get here, such as training at six in the morning and leaving our kids back at home. The other day a guy stopped us at the venue and said we looked like two happy little kids waking around. We tried to enjoy everything here.”
And they did enjoy each moment they had in Hamburg. Be it playing against world champions and Olympic medalists USA’s April Ross and China’s Chen Xue, sharing a packed Red Bull Beach Arena with the home team of Julia Sude and Karla Borger or asking for photos and autographs from other players, the Nicaraguans had a blast over the last few days.
They also learned that the beach volleyball elite is made of very good people.
“I follow Agatha and Duda on Instagram very closely and to meet them in person was unbelievable,” Rodriguez added. “I was amazed because they had never seen me or heard from Nicaraguan beach volleyball before, but the first thing they did was to hug me and kiss me. It was nice to see to see that besides of great beach volleyball players and lovers of the sport they are also very nice people.”
Now that they know the taste of the World Championships, the 29-year-old Rodriguez and the 32-year-old Mendoza want to feel it again. Their careers has been limited to national and continental tournaments, but if depends on her commitment, the Nicaraguan flag will be seen out there more often from now on.
“We don’t know when or even if we’re coming back,” Mendoza commented. “Our international careers have been limited to trying to qualify for the Pan-American Games every four years, but now that we’ve been here and felt how special it is, we couldn’t be more motivated to give all we have all over again to be back in two years or maybe even play at the Olympics.”