Svenja Müller and Cinja Tillmann didn’t want to crown their strong performances at the Beach Volleyball World Championships in Rome. Only because one of their superior Swiss opponents was seriously injured in the match for third place did they win bronze. When the bloodcurdling screams echoed through the stadium, nobody was interested in the sport anymore.

The two German volleyball players Müller and Tillmann looked at each other in complete shock when their opponent Joana Heidrich fell into the sand after a serve, clutched her right arm and cried out in pain. Heidrich was treated for minutes and Müller and Tillmann, who were visibly shocked and had tears in their eyes, also helped to take care of the 30-year-old.

They held towels to protect the injured Heidrich from view while doctors tended to the Swiss woman. “It’s just terrible, you’re standing next to it and you’re so helpless,” said 21-year-old Müller. The first diagnosis revealed that Heidrich had dislocated his right shoulder. She had already struggled with shoulder problems in the lost semi-final against the Brazilians Duda and Ana Patricia the day before.

Heidrich was immediately taken to the hospital, from which she has since been released. As her association Swiss Volley announced on Sunday evening, her right shoulder was put back in the clinic and Heidrich should now be examined and treated further in her home country.

At the time of the demolition on Sunday, the two women from Hamburg were behind with 0:1 sets and 7:10 points against Heidrich and her partner Anouk Vergé-Dépré. After the Olympic bronze medalists gave up, the game and the medal went to the German duo. “These are very mixed feelings, our thoughts are with Joana and Anouk,” said Tillmann. The fact that the 30-year-old and her partner, who was nine years younger, had put in a strong performance at the World Cup had become completely irrelevant.

Just getting into the semi-finals on Saturday was a success for the newly formed duo. The 2-1 loss to Canada’s Sophie Bukovec and Brandie Wilkerson was the first in their seventh World Cup game. In the final in the evening, the Brazilians Duda and Ana Patricia beat Bukovec and Wilkerson 2-0 (21:17, 21:19).

“We saw the huge potential, but we were all surprised that they managed to access it so quickly,” said DVV sports director Niclas Hildebrand. Müller and Tillmann got together last year, but will only play through their first season completely this year. A first success was the victory in Ostrava in May at the Elite 16 tournament, the highest category in the Beach Pro Tour.

Above all, the 1.92 meter tall Svenja Müller, who is only 21 years old, is Germany’s hope for the future. “If she stays physically fit, she has six more chances to reach the finals at world championships in her career,” said Hildebrand.