Olympics 'crazy experience' for Paraguayan Granada


RIO DE JANEIRO – The flag was almost as big as her. It was heavy, too. But Paraguay’s Julieta Granada, a scrappy 5 feet 2 inches tall, wasn’t going to let the minor details stop her from carrying it for her country in the Opening Ceremony last week in the Olympics.

“I was nervous about making sure that it stayed up,” Granada said Tuesday at the Olympic Golf Course. “Then the moment when they give you the flag it’s like, ‘alright, game time, go.’

“I tried to soak in the moments as much as I could, I tried to enjoy it as much as I could; Just be happy out there.”

Granada flew back to Florida for a week, then returned to Rio early Sunday. The 29-year-old LPGA veteran has played in tournaments all over the world but this one is entirely different because of the enormity of the Games.

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“We never experience anything like this so we have to adjust and go,” she said. “It’s a crazy experience.”

Now that all the pre-Games hoopla is behind her it’s time for Granada to get down to business. She hasn’t played particularly well this year, her 11th on the LPGA. She’s missed 12 cuts and is 127th in earnings. Her lone LPGA victory remains a $1 million paycheck in the year-end playoff event in 2006, her rookie year.

But this week is different. This week, Granada plays for her country, something that brings out her passion more than most other weeks.

“Every time I put on the Paraguayan jersey I become a different person,” Granada said. “I have played amazing tournaments with that shirt on and hopefully this is another one. I’m very proud of where I’m from and I’m very proud of where I am today. A podium or a medal would be amazing, but I can’t think that far ahead yet.”