“These gold medals are the reward for hard work”
Denmark women’s head coach Morten Chang Holmen jumped for joy, threw his cap high in the air and sprinted to his celebrating players, who were all lying on the sand.
Denmark, silver medallists in 2011 and 2013, had finally won their first gold.
“This means everything,” Holmen told euroHandball.com. “We have fought for this 10, 11 years now. We had second place, we had third place, now we have this gold medal. That means a lot, for the girls, for me, for whole beach Handball in Denmark. An amazing job the girls have been doing this tournament.”
And things would become even better for Denmark – much better.
“It feels absolutely amazing”
Two hours after the women earned their title, the men’s team repeated the feat by downing Norway 2:0 (15:18, 19:16), also for their first ever gold medal.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” Joachim Trend Hansen said when asked about holding the golden plate in his hands.
“It is not something that anybody else but us thought we could,” said Hansen, who contributed 15 points to Denmark’s tally in the final. “We finished seventh in the last European Championship and seventh in the last World Championship, so this is a huge step on the ladder for us.”
Denmark knew they might be able to go all the way after they defeated defending champions Spain in a main round game on Thursday
“When we beat Spain convincingly 2:0, we knew that we could beat anybody. I think that was decisive,” Hansen said.
One match made the difference
Also for the women’s team, one match made the difference, according to head coach Holmen.
“We played Germany in the second match. We won in a shoot-out after we had lost the first set very big. We turned that around,” Holmen recalled. “From that moment on, we told ourselves, we can go and reach the gold.”
For Holmen, the strength of the women’s team is being a true team.
“We don’t have one or two players, we have 11 players who fight as a team,” he said. “That is why we get the gold today.”
Team spirit has been a decisive factor
The similar applies to the Danish men’s team. Their team spirit has been a decisive factor in the road to gold.
The team from head coach Gorm Andersen was regarded as an outside contender for the title, but they themselves were well aware what they are capable of going all the way.
However, it took them until three days into the tournament before realising that their golden dream could really come true.
“Once we beat Spain, we were aiming for the podium,” men’s head coach Andersen said.
“People are starting going to the beach in February, when it is cold in Denmark. And they start playing beach Handball in full dress code,” the head coach said. “This gold means that we are getting something for the hard work. We also get a lot of support from the federation. So it’s mean a lot for us.”
And the old saying that reaching the top is easier than staying at the top will not apply to the Danish men’s team.
“We don’t have a lot of old players, and the old players we have are totally fit,” he said. “We will be on the top for some years, I am sure.”
Photos: Uros Hocevar / kolektiff / EHF
TEXT: Eric Willemsen / ts