Every two years the cream of Europe’s U19 talent come together to compete in the European Junior Championships for both team and individual glory. What makes the European Junior Championships special is the duration of the event which not only challenges the physical capabilities of all the athletes but also is a heavy drain on these young players mentally through 10 days of intense competition and two weeks away from home.
As a result in excess of 250 athletes go into the tournament with dreams of glory but only a handful emerge the other side with medals around their necks. Of those with medals only a select few come emerge as potential European stars for the future.
This year’s European’s in Ankara saw the dominance of Bulgaria's Stefani Stoeva in the individual events as well as Denmark reasserting their position as top nation winning the team event. Israel’s Daniel Chislov and Justin Teeuwen from The Netherlands impressed in the men’s singles. As well as other established talents such as Kjaersfeldt and Madsen it was Germanys Franziska Volkmann who’s style, class and poise served to single the smiling German out as a potential European star for the future.
Badminton Europe took some time out with Franziska and asked her about her European Junior Journey, her life, her club and her future.
The Badminton Stuff
Q1: Your European Junior journey was a roller coaster ride can you put into words the event in Ankara and your feeling after achieving two bronze medals?
A1: This experience in Turkey was amazing. We had so many spectator and they were like crazy. They threw things on court and made a crazy atmosphere by screaming and shouting. It was something we never saw in badminton before. I am happy that I achieved two bronze medals. We had a hard draw in the individuals and we had to fight every game and I am happy that we did it.
Q2. You had to deal with a lot of mental pressures in Ankara and beating the Turks in three games in front of their crazy supporters was one of those moments to remember. What do you remember from that match and how difficult was it given the noise and partisan Turkish support in the hall?
A2: It was a very tough match. The crowd there was screaming so much and it was hard to keep concentrate while the noise. But we showed we could deal with this pressure as mentally it was so difficult and just too even hear our coach was tough.
Q3: Mixed doubles seems to be the event where you feel most comfortable. Is that your preferred discipline and is mixed doubles where you see your future?
A3: Mixed is my preferred discipline and I think I got the biggest potential in that discipline. It is where I am comfortable.
Q4: You play for Horner TV in Hamburg. Tell us the importance of your club in your career to date and your roll in the club from a playing perspective?
A4: The club helped me in everything I’ve done. They make it possible for me and other players from my club to train for three weeks in Malaysia and that was an amazing experience. To train and work with Asian players showed us the level of work we need to put in to get to the top.
Q5: You appear to be a very driven and ambitious person which is borne out by your motto “I don’t train because I like training… I train because I like winning. With this in mind what are your short, medium and long term badminton ambitions?
A5: My short term in badminton is to get into the senior tournaments and get a routine in it. In the medium term I want to win a few Badminton Europe circuit tournaments and in long term I want to do what every badminton player and every athlete wants to do, play the Olympic Games.
Q6: What German star do you admire and look up to most and as you move into senior badminton what are your hopes and plans?
A6: I admire Birgit Michels from Germany as she is a role model for all young German players. I look forward to moving into senior badminton alongside my current partner Mark Lamsfuss after such a positive European campaign together. I think we have good chemistry on the court together.
Q7: Watching you play in Ankara was reminiscent of watching the great English player Gail Emms in action. Who have been your badminton hero’s and who has inspired you the most and who have you modelled your game on?
A7: My badminton hero is a very good friend of mine Isabel Herttrich. I trained two years together with her and she is a person that breathes new life into the training sessions and she is such a nice girl with much power and much ambition.
Q8: Many players have routines, habits and superstitions when the travel and play badminton. Do you have any individual Franziska things you do before a game or special items you carry with you in your bag that must go with you everywhere?
A8: I know a lot of players have small things they do which works for them or have become part of a routine. For me I don’t have things like that. I am just simple and do normal things and get on with the game.
Q9: As you move into senior badminton what do you think you will need to improve most and what part of the game differs most from the junior circuit?
A9: I have to get better in the rear court for women’s doubles. I think it will be hard at the beginning to get used to the senior badminton, because I think there is more competition, the tempo is so much higher and of course just getting used to playing against players you have watched and admired for so long with take time to get used to.
Q10: What things do you like about travelling to badminton tournaments and what things do you not like when travelling?
A10: I like the travelling, because you get to know new behaviours and customs from other countries. Seeing a being a part of a new culture is fun. The downside is that when competing we go to countries but often we have no time to see all that we would like to see.
The Franziska Stuff
Q1: What song is most played on your IPod/Phone at the moment and what are your favourite bands?
A1: At the moment the song Drunk by Ed Sheeran is one of my favourites.
Q2: What is your favourite sport other than badminton and why?
A2: I like Squash, because I played it before I started Badminton and it is still nice to play it as a little distraction.
Q3: What phone do you currently have and are you a person who texts or calls?
A3: I got an iPhone and I am a person that texts very much.
Q4: What is your favourite city you have visited and what city would you most like to visit and why?
A4: I really like Kuala Lumpur and really wanted to go to Sidney.
Q5: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
A5: Once I was in a store and everywhere in this store were doors made of glass and I ran against one of these doors. :D
Q6: If your numbers came up in the lottery and you won 1 million Euro what would you buy and why?
A6: I think I would buy a house and one car and with the rest of the money I would make an investment.
Q7: When you were a small child what job did you most want to do when you grew up?
A7: I wanted to be an Egyptologist, because I was watching some documentaries and I was fascinated by the old Egypt.
Q8: Like twitter can you describe yourself in under 140 characters?
A8: I am a friendly, ambitious and helpful person. I am a very organized person to get everything done. I really like to hang out with friends when I got time to do that. I really like long walks in the nature.
Q9: What is the nicest complement you have every received?
A9: I was told that my smile and my dimples were very beautiful which was nice to hear.
Q10: Finally tell us something about yourself that nobody knows?
A10: I am a very shy girl.
Article an Image by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe.