San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 21, 2016 – Safia Boukhima is one of three players of the Algeria team who have enjoyed the experience of taking part in the Olympic Games and in the particular case of the captain of the squad she has been there not once but twice.
Her chances of making back for a third time suffered a blow on Friday night when Algeria, the youngest team in the competition, lost to Puerto Rico in the opening day of the Women’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament that offers one last ticket to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Despite the negative start, the 25-year-old Boukhima was willing to share her feelings during the Beijing and London Games in 2008 and 2012.
“It is a unique experience to be there along with the top athletes in the world and to compete against the best teams,” Boukhima said on Friday. “That’s an opportunity that shows maybe once in a lifetime so I have to be grateful for having the chance to be there not once but twice.”
She was only 17 when she attended the Beijing Games and had little participation, different to London when she was one of the six regular starters for the Algerian team.
“I didn’t play too much in Beijing and we didn’t have good fortunes in London either but to be able to participate fulfilled my dream and the dream of my teammates,” Boukhima said.
“The atmosphere around the Olympics is different than other world events, I took part in the 2010 World Championship in 2010 in Japan and in the World Grand Prix in 2015 and nothing can be compared to the Olympics,” she commented.
Three players of Algeria have gone through the experience of participating in the Olympic Games with the other two the libero Nawal Mansouri and middle blocker Dallal Achour.
The only other player competing at the 2016 World Olympic Qualifier in Puerto Rico is Kenya’s Jannet Wanja who attended the Sydney Games in 2000 when she was 17 years-old.
“I am part of a rebuilding process towards the next Olympic cycle and I have been named captain of the team succeeding Fatima Oukazi, who stopped playing after a long career as one of the best setters in Africa,” Boukhima said. “The age average of the team is under 22 so for most of our players this is a starting point.”