Pigot brothers set the standard for Suriname in Olympics

Inge Pigot remembers the thrill she felt four years ago watching her daughter, Chinyere, swim in the Olympics in Beijing.

Pigot can barely describe what she felt when she heard that her daughter was chosen to be the face of their home country at this year’s Olympics.

Chinyere and her younger brother, Diguan, each former local high school star swimmers at Miami’s Doral Academy School will compete for their native Suriname beginning this weekend at the Olympics.

But Chinyere, a former four-time All-Dade First Team swimmer, was tabbed with an even more special honor recently.

Chinyere was chosen to be the flag bearer for the Suriname delegation during the traditional parade of nations at Friday’s Opening Ceremonies in London.

“It feels good to see Chinyere make it again,” Inge Pigot said. “But this is better than before because of what Chinyere will get to do, and that she and her brother can share the experience.”

The siblings, along with their 14-year old younger brother, Zuhayr, a sophomore at Doral Academy, were born in Suriname and came to Miami six years ago.

Inge Pigot will watch the broadcast of the Opening Ceremonies in Miami. Pigot, who works at the Suriname consulate, stayed home with the youngest member of her swimming family, Zuhayr, a 14-year old incoming sophomore at Doral Academy. The Pigots’ father, Hesdy, works in Suriname and travels back and forth from there to Miami.

Chinyere and Diguan, who were state champions during their careers at Doral, will be part of the five athletes representing Suriname at this year’s Olympics. The tiny South American nation and former Dutch colony located north of Brazil has a population of approximately 560,000. It also has only two medals in its Olympic history that began in 1960.

Both came in swimming and were won by Anthony Nesty, the country’s national swim coach.

The Pigots are hoping to add to their country’s swimming tradition.

Chinyere, 19, made her Olympic debut in Beijing as a freestyle swimmer, but did not advance past the heats.

But since then, Pigot has become the most popular name in Suriname swimming and athletics overall. Pigot has been named the country’s sports Lady of the Year.

A sophomore at the University of Connecticut, Pigot has already broken school records in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events. With her college experience and four additional years to grow and mature, Pigot has a chance for a better finish in the sprint freestyles this time.

Diguan, 18, The Miami Herald’s Swimmer of the Year this past school year, will make his Olympic debut in the 100-meter breaststroke. He was Dade’s lone state champion this past season in that event. He has also enrolled at UConn to begin swimming there this fall.

“It’s great to see them get the opportunity to compete,” said the Pigots’ club swimming coach Kirk Peppas, who has coached four international Olympians in 30 years coaching at Metro Aquatic Club in Miami. “For Chinyere though, it says a lot to be picked as flag bearer because that shows you how well she has represented her country in and out of the pool.”

And their mother plans to support them.

“It’s a great satisfaction to see them be able to experience this together,” Pigot said. “I feel truly blessed.”

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