Among the visors and ballcaps and a fair number of bare heads on the beach volleyball court, Lars Fluggen’s bucket hat stands out.
The German plays while wearing a smelly, sweaty, stained white hat that his mother first bought for him when he was 5 years old on a vacation in the North Sea island of Amrum. He dug it out of his closet a few years ago and has worn it ever since.
The hat has a narrow, shriveled brim that doesn’t block the sun, but Fluggen says he wouldn’t think of playing without it.
“I don’t know what will happen if I stop wearing this,” he said this week after he and Markus Boeckermann lost to the Netherlands in their second match of pool play.
“Once, I thought I lost it. I got very nervous,” he said. “I was really shaky and Markus was making fun of me. Then I found it in my pocket.”
The hat has inspired its own Twitter account.
— Lars Flüggen's Hat (@fluggens_hat) August 8, 2016
Fluggen says he washes the cap after a tournament _ but never during. After his second match on Monday, it was already showing the effects of a couple of hours in the Rio sun.
“It’s a little bit stinky right now,” he said.