07.09.2020 - Vienna, Austria
Chantal Laboureur and Sandra Ittlinger chased their first title beach volleyball title together for 18 months. But when they got it, it was a big one as the duo topped the podium of the 2020 edition of the German Championships, which were played this week in Timmendorfer Strand. Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler were the winners among the men.
Partners since the start of 2019, Chantal and Sandra took a while to click as their first international season had plenty of 17th-place finishes. The 2020 season was their hope to right the ship in time to qualifying to the Tokyo Olympics, but the coronavirus pandemic threw water on their plans.
The Germans, then, decided to focus on their national season and won the biggest tournament in their country this year with a sound 19-21, 21-16, 15-9 triumph over Rio 2016 Olympic champion Laura Ludwig and former indoor star Maggie Kozuch.
Their victory had a stroke of a genius as the Germans managed to change the path of the match with the unforeseen strategy of serving Ludwig short.
“Our coach Danny Wood set us up really well for this match,” Chantal reflected. “We had a feeling that it was the best way to go and we just went for it. It’s a big victory and we’ll celebrate it, but with caution. The European Championships are coming in less than two weeks and they can be an important tournament to our Olympic qualification hopes.”
Ittlinger’s former partner Kim Behrens and Cinja Tillmann secured the third spot at the podium after Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider had to forfeit the bronze medal match due to a back injury on Bieneck.
The men’s tournament in Timmendorfer Strand had a more predictable outcome with favorites Thole and Wickler finding their way to the top of the podium win five wins and no sets dropped.
Their final victory, which crowned them as two-time national champions after winning their first title in 2018, was a 21-12, 21-18 over Nils Ehlers and temporary partner Eric Stadie, who replaced the injured Lars Flüggen.
“When the Olympics and the World Tour events were cancelled, the German Championships became our main target for the year,” Wickler, now a four-time champion, reflected. “Preparing to be here today was what motivated us in several days of training. We wanted to be German champions and to do it for a second time is fantastic.”
Sven Winter and Alexander Walkenhorst finished third after they defeated Paul Becker and Jonas Schröder in straight sets (21-19, 21-17) in the bronze medal match.