We spoke with the German women’s team head coach, Holger Glinicki, about their roles as defending Paralympic Games champions, their dreams and their motivation.
They are one of the most successful nations in wheelchair basketball – the German women’s team. Since they played their first tournament in 1972 they have won numerous medals: not only the three gold medals and one silver at the Paralympic Games, but they are also six times European Champions as well as four times silver medalist, plus one bronze medal in a World Championship.
At the Paralympic Games in London 2012 they won a very competitive final game against the Australians in front of more than 17000 spectators. Will they continue their successful story at Rio 2016 too?
It is clear that they’ve trained hard for their aim and of course it would be their dream to win the Paralympics again but head coach Holger Glinicki is realistic.
“These will be tough games. There will be a lot of minor details which you can‘t even manage. You have to know where you stay. So we have to see how it works finally.”
For him the absolute favourites are the Netherlands because they do not only play very well they are also all professional players and they train together for more than ten months of the year. Unlike the Germans who’ve trained together only since May. Nevertheless they beat the Netherlands in the final game of the European Championship 2015 in Worcester last year, so nothing is impossible.
To ensure they may reach this goal again they have trained a lot during the last months. For their preparation they’ve been inter alia in Lanzarote, Lyon, Frankfurt, Lake Placid, Almere and Worcester. Although they had to deal with a few cases of illness during the last weeks, Holger Glinicki is optimistic that they will be all fit and healthy when the Paralympics start. Moreover they are a balanced cadre this year.
“We’ve got different line ups and we have a broad base. We have a lot of young players and also players who have belonged to the team for a long time, who bring serenity and routine to this. So we are able to take it if one of the good players should fail.”
To the question if they feel a stronger pressure as the reigning champions this year at the Paralympics, he said,
“Pressure, we have this every time in the last few years because there is always the expectation that we win or that we reach the final. Although we really reached the finals in the last ten years but this year it will be particularly difficult for us because the other teams have caught up and have the same standard now. So our aim is to come as far as possible and hopefully to win a medal.”
Today wheelchair basketball is totally different to the one ten to fifteen years ago. It is more dynamic, much faster and training time is much higher because everyone is doing more. Therefore the whole sport has become better and better but there is still a lot to do, Holger Glinicki points out. He knows what he’s talking about because he has trained the German women’s team for eleven years and has influenced the sport a lot but now he is really looking forward to the games with his team.
Besides the wheelchair basketball arena and the Paralympic village they won’t see a lot but this doesn’t matter as they are finally in Rio 2016 to play wheelchair basketball and maybe become the old and the new champions.