Australian sporting icon and Olympic gold medallist, Natalie Cook OAM OLY, has been announced as official ambassador of the 2021 Great Barrier Reef Masters Games, to be held in Cairns May 20-23.
Born in Townsville, Natalie was the first Australian woman to compete at five Olympic Games. She is also the only athlete to have competed in all five of the Olympic women’s beach volleyball tournaments since the sport was introduced in Atlanta in 1996.
With Kerri Pottharst as her partner, she represented Australia at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and won a bronze medal on the sport’s debut.
After a break the pair re-formed a year before the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The duo made for one of the most iconic moments of the 2000 Sydney Olympics when they beat the number one-ranked Brazilian pair and won the gold medal.
Natalie will not only take to the courts on the Esplanade for a volleyball match or two, but will also be involved in the Masters Games Gallop, social events and coaching clinics.
“I am so excited to be heading to the Far North for the GBRMG and share in the competitive and social spirit of the masters games,” Natalie said.
“I can’t wait to get sand between my toes again, on the Esplanade and try my hand at some of the other sports. I am just as pumped about a side trip to the reef and the rainforest too!”
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said it was fitting to have Natalie part of 2021 Great Barrier Reef Masters Games with Beach Volleyball one of the runaway success stories of the 2019 event.
“Set against the backdrop of our gorgeous Esplanade and foreshore, it was easy to see why beach volleyball was one of the runaway success stories of the 2019 Great Barrier Reef Masters Games and I am sure next year’s Games will be just as enticing for athletes,” Cr Manning said.
“Nat Cook is a fantastic ambassador for not only women’s and masters sports, but for the Far North. We can’t wait to see her back out on the court and showcase all the fantastic attractions our region has to offer.”
Since retiring from the sport Natalie has become a regular on the motivation speaking circuit, an advocate for tackling childhood obesity; an author; and successful businesswoman. Natalie is also the official Athlete Ambassador for Queensland’s 2032 Olympic Games bid.