This summer could hardly have been more emotional. One triumphal frenzy followed the next, a dance of joy followed that of the others. The German beach handball players first celebrated the World Championship title in the sands of Crete at the end of June, only two weeks later the World Games were won in the heat of Birmingham in the USA. “Slowly, everything could sink in a bit. But the term world champion is still a bit surreal and not quite tangible,” says Lena Klingler, describing her emotional state.
The 21-year-old Klingler was one of the best scorers in the selection of the German Handball Association (DGB) and repeatedly impressed with her throw variations on the left outer position. DHB President Andreas Michelmann described the success of the women as a “milestone”, who, together with the European Championship last year, were able to triumph in the three biggest tournaments in their sport within twelve months. “It’s just awesome and wasn’t to be expected at all,” says Klingler.
This is currently accompanied by increased attention and appreciation in and outside of the handball scene, with the visit of IOC President Thomas Bach again increasing hope that the sport will be included in the Olympic catalog in the future after attempts that have failed so far. Beach handball can slowly shake off its reputation of being the fun version of the indoor version. “Every sport has both a fun version and a competitive version. There are also the third division footballers who meet for a beer on Sunday and the absolute football professionals. It’s the same with beach handball,” says Klingler. Everything has its place. Quite apart from the fact that the challenges in the sand are often underestimated. The hard-to-work underground is one thing, the weather-related dependency and sometimes sweaty temperatures are another.
At the same time, the sport is attractive due to its speed and offers the spectators spectacular entertainment with Kempa tricks and spin throws. You can look forward to this at the German championship that is now taking place from August 5th to 7th (the final tournament will be broadcast spontaneously via Twitch). After several years in Berlin, the event returned to Cuxhaven via a short detour to Düsseldorf, where the tournament in the Stadion am Meer was held for the first time in 1997 – albeit in a slightly different form – and resided until 2011.
The men’s are with the BHC Sand Devils, Beach
That is also the reason why Klingler cannot take part this year, but is contesting the first friendlies with the first division promoted VfL Waiblingen Tigers. “Sometimes the hall comes first,” says Klingler. In Germany, the conditions are not such that the athletes can concentrate entirely on the sand, as is increasingly the case with the Spaniards, for example. “The situation in Germany hasn’t given it that way yet,” says Klingler, who considers herself equally fortunate that her club has released her for the DHB courses. A concession that not every club makes.
So there remains the balancing act between hall and sand – and that can sometimes be a bit tricky. There is little time for regeneration anyway and the change should not be underestimated. Physically, because the muscles and tendons are used differently and the contact away from the beach is more intense. But just as mentally, because the game system diverges tactically with two more players and a larger field as well as additional triggering actions on the floor.
“It’s definitely happened that I jumped in a throw with both legs, as is usual in beach handball, and then realized that it wasn’t necessary at the moment,” reports Klingler. After two training sessions, the head came back. Indoor pirouettes remain the exception.
This weekend, despite the indoor tournament, Lena Klingler will probably keep her head on beach handball and keep her fingers crossed in front of the phone screen for her teammates there. Possible dance of joy included.