Gold is a precious thing in the world of sport and anyone who can win gold at a major championship is without doubt the best at that given time at that given event. Team gold is an even more rare commodity in sport as a team is only as good as its weakest link.
Today in Amsterdam, the Ladies team from Germany proved that strength in dept was the key in their run to the Gold medal as they came back from losing the opening singles against Denmark to take the women’s team event for the first time ever in their history.
Tine Baun gave the holders the best possible start with a display of badminton that left Juliane Schenk feeding off scraps. But what came next really set the Germans apart as the strongest team in the completion as Olga Konon came out on court and blew Karina Jørgensen away to maintain her 100% record for the tournament. Shortly after Schenk and Michels combined to fight back from a set down to take the doubles victory over Røpke and Kruse to leave the job of completing the gold hunt to ‘pocket rocket’ Karin Schnaase against Line Kjaersfeldt.
What a match this third singles proved to be as Kjaersfeldt led 20-17 in the opening set but the never say die attitude of Schnaase kept clawing back point after point and to Kjaersfeldt utter dismay took the first set 22-20 to the deafening cheers of the German support. Schnaase went on to take the match in 2 sets and fell to the ground as her team mates descended on top of her in celebration.
“I cannot believe I have done this for my team. WOW...we have won gold and this is the best moment of my career to date” said an overwhelmed Schnaase to Badminton Europe after the victory.
But in truth there were many hero’s in team Germany this week and players such as Konon, Michels, Schenk and Marinello, to mention but a few, will go down in the annals of history as the stars that brought the victory home to Germany for the first time.
“My first cap for Germany and I win European gold with my amazing team mates. German nationals two weeks ago and now this I really cannot believe it” said a joyous Olga Konon to Badminton Europe.
Denmark also can be proud of their weeks work and joining both teams in the finals in China will be The Netherlands after the Dutch girls defeated Russia in the bronze medal match with Judith Meulendjiks the outstanding player for the Dutch this week.
In the men’s event Denmark proved their undoubted quality with a 3-0 win over Germany to continue their amazing record of never losing a match in the European men’s team competition in its entire history.
In the bronze medal match, team England capped over a good week with a 3-0 win over Russia with all four teams advancing to the Thomas Cup in China.
Players of the tournament are always hard to decide after an epic weeks work by all but certainly Judith Meulendijks and Olga Konon were outstanding while in the men’s Jan Ø. Jørgensen was a class above the rest and Nicole Schaller of Switzerland was probably the outstanding young player of the tournament.
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Article by Mark Phelan (live in Amsterdam); Photo by BadmintonPhoto