Kerri Pottharst is one of Austalia's most decorated volleyball players. Her gold medal win in beach volleyball at the Sydney Olympics inspired the nation. Kerri will call the beach volleyball for Nine-Foxtel.
Natalie Cook is, hands down, the most credentialed athlete to carry the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
We have not had a female flag bearer for two decades, with four-time Olympian, diver Jenny Donnet, the last woman to have had the honour at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. It’s time for a female to lead our team again.
But far more than the issue of time alone, Natalie Cook has earned the right.
Nat, who I paired with in beach volleyball at two Olympics, is set to become the only female Australian athlete to have competed at five Summer Games. It’s an extraordinary feat for anyone, but especially for women who often have to battle other commitments.
You also need to remember that Nat has been at the top of her game throughout her career. During her four Olympics, she has won a gold and bronze medal and also claimed a fourth and fifth placing.
Nat is an amazingly driven athlete. When she sets her mind to something, she really doesn’t leave a stone unturned. She’s a visionary, who paints the picture in her mind. I actually understand that she has been joking about carrying the flag after each of her practice sessions, imitating a flag bearer leading their team.
That’s the sort of person she is. She has fun with it. She’s not just 100% serious and focussed. She makes it a fun journey and she’s done that ever since I’ve known her.
Nat is also involved with the Olympic committee - the Olympic movement - and I think she will be forever and a day. She does a lot for our sport in terms of promotion. She’s always fighting to build a following and have the sport of beach volleyball put up in a shining light around the world.
I know that’s been her motivation, above anything else for these past few years, to get to five Summer Games and create history and it would just be a great culmination for her career to see her leading that green and gold army at the opening ceremony.
Nat is pairing with Tamsin Hinchley again at this year’s Olympics and while they’re probably a bit older than the rest of the field, age is actually a benefit in our sport. If you’re still fit, then experience always counts toward a few points than pure physical aggression.