LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - When father and son took their places at opposite ends of the volleyball court on Sunday, it was clear the Uriarte family would have something of a mixed start to the London Olympics.
In the end, bragging rights went to 22-year-old Nicolas Uriarte, who briefly helped Argentina as a substitute to a straight sets Pool A opening victory over a battling Australia coached by his father and 1988 bronze medallist, Jon.
Jon, who sat courtside cross-legged and calm, gave only the odd shrug of the shoulders as his native countrymen’s attack and fierce defence at the net proved too much for a spirited Australia roared on by a green and gold contingent.
The 25-21, 25-22, 25-20 result was not a shock. Argentina, also coached by Jon between stints with Australia in 2001-2004 and since May last year, ranked 14 places higher in the world than their 22nd placed counterparts, who face hosts Britain on Tuesday.
The brief introduction of his son in the second set caused a quick glance across the court. Jon later told reporters that it had been hard to keep his feelings under wraps.
“I don’t know if it was a contradiction, you know, but I was cheering for him as well,” joked Uriarte senior, standing beside his son, having embraced on court afterwards.
“When we knew about the draw and that we would be together at the Olympics I have been so happy,” added Jon, whose three children all play volleyball.
“As a father, seeing them be happy, expressing themselves as well, you know, it’s huge. I don’t know what life could give me next, it is already enough.”
Australian player Aden Tutton said afterwards Jon had been pumped up to beat his home country, but Uriarte’s family, sat in the stands at London’s Earls Court took a more equal approach.
“An Argentina flag and a Australia flag, a bit of both,” Nicolas said, pointing to either cheek on his face. (Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)