Lausanne, Switzerland: From the shores of Lake Geneva to the fairways of Rio de Janeiro, the world’s top women golfers had a taste of what to expect in 2016 when they paid a visit to the Olympic Museum and IOC Headquarters ahead of the Evian Championship.
Seven golfers from five continents, all with aspirations of going to the 2016 Rio Olympics, played a nearest to the pin contest before taking a guided tour of the Olympic Museum and posing in front of the Olympic Flame.
Feng Shanshan (China), Julieta Granada (Paraguay), Fabienne In-Albon (Switzerland), Caroline Masson (Germany), Paula Reto (South Africa), Alena Sharp (Canada) and Maria Uribe (Colombia) were all inspired to realise their own Olympic dreams as they learned about past records and heroes.
Staged at two editions of the Games (Paris 1900 and St Louis 1904), golf is returning to the Olympic programme in 2016 after a 112-year absence.
To mark this event, International Golf Federation (IGF) Executive Director Antony Scanlon announced that The Olympic Museum will devote an exhibition to golf with free admission from December 9 to January 31, where visitors can learn everything about the sport before the upcoming Games.
After the contest and tour, several players met the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at the IOC Headquarters to discuss their hopes for when golf returns to the Olympic Games next August. President Bach insisted on hitting a few chip shots with the players in the garden afterwards and said: “I really enjoyed trying golf but the passion was greater than the performance!”
World number eight Feng, one of China’s brightest medal prospects, said: “It was great to learn more about the history of the Olympic Games and it has certainly inspired me to go for a medal! The Olympics is so popular in China and I am determined to represent my country with pride.”
Granada, who is Paraguay’s representative on the current Olympic Ranking, said: “As I’m from South America I’ve got extra incentive to perform well in Rio. As well as competing, I’m looking forward to the carnival atmosphere at the greatest show on earth.”
In-Albon, who is poised to represent Switzerland, said: “Representing my country in the Olympics has been a dream since I was a little girl. Now I have the chance to make this dream become a reality so I’m working very hard every day because I’m sure next year is going to fly by.”
German Masson, who won the nearest to the pin contest, added: “It was a privilege to sit down with President Bach and the IOC staff and it was great to hear how much support golf has from the IOC in its return to the Games. I’m working really hard to make sure I’m in Rio next year.”
After their visit, the players took the short boat ride back across the lake from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Evian, France, which is hosting the final Major championship of 2015.