TOWhen the German handball players completed their first Olympic participation in 16 years, there were first some tears of joy and relief and then champagne: “It's incredible that we are going to Paris. For all of us, the biggest dream is coming true. I am super happy and super proud,” said co-captain Emily Bölk after the 28:24 (11:7) against Montenegro, third place in the European Championship.

Thanks to the subsequent 14:32 of the outsider Paraguay against Slovenia, the DHB team has already secured Olympic qualification before the last match of the tournament against the South Americans on Sunday (13:30 in summer time). ARD and in Dyn) sure. Afterwards there was a toast in front of the team hotel.

“It's an incredibly beautiful feeling. I am simply happy for the achievements we have been achieving step by step,” said national coach Markus Gaugisch and praised him in a short speech: “It has been a great journey. “You did great.”

“The greatest and best gift”

Led by the excellent goalkeeper Katharina Filter and the precise Julia Maidhof, the DHB team also achieved undisputed success in the second Olympic qualification match and participates in the Olympic Games for the first time since 2008 in Beijing. “I am very happy to have done the job. Congratulations to the team,” Gaugisch said.

The best German thrower in front of 4,269 spectators in Neu-Ulm was the defense player Maidhof, who turned 50. international match He scored nine goals. “From the first minute we left no doubt that we were really looking forward to it and we showed that we were the best team in this tournament,” summarized co-captain Alina Grijseels, who had celebrated her 28th birthday the day before. “This is the best and greatest gift I have ever received in my life,” said the defensive player.

The German team started nervously. Unlike the convincing opening victory against Slovenia by 31:25, there was not much success in attack and only one goal in the first seven minutes. At least goalkeeper Filter was reliable again. The 25-year-old, who was named player of the match after the final whistle, shone with numerous saves and, as against the Slovenians, was the strong support between the posts that was expected.

Her teammates were compact on defense, but struggled on offense. Luckily, Maidhof showed great nerve and precision, at least in the seven-meter throws. Halfway through the first half, the DHB team had a four-goal lead for the first time at 7:3.

Although Montenegro remained goalless for eight minutes in this phase, the German team was unable to take a decisive lead as the best opportunities were repeatedly wasted. Thanks mainly to Filter we arrived at half-time with a four-goal lead.

After the change, the DHB team raised the temperature. Suddenly things were going well on offense as well. In a few minutes, the sixth-ranked team in the World Cup came within ten goals (20:10). This broke the rival's resistance. Amid the cheers of the fans, the German team continued to concentrate at the end so that the victory was no longer in danger.

After the final whistle, the team was celebrated by the fans for a few minutes. The Olympic party only begins after the last match of the tournament against Paraguay. “Tomorrow will be a real celebration because we have a responsibility towards the spectators,” Gaugisch announced. There were no objections from his protégés. “We will toast with an apple spritzer because we want to offer something to the fans again,” Filter said, adding: “But it will still be a pleasant evening.”

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