31.01.2019 - World Champs Hamburg
When Kira Walkenhorst announced her shock retirement last month, little did she know how much impact her decision would have on teams in the German beach volleyball system.
With Laura Ludwig pairing with Maggie Kozuch, Karla Borger needed a new partner. She joined forces with Julia Sude which meant Chantal Laboureur was all of a sudden on the lookout for a new teammate. Until now.
Laboureur, who with Sude won two Beach Major Series titles, has teamed up with one of the rising stars of the tour, 24-year-old Sandra Ittlinger. In a breakout 2017/18 season, Ittlinger and partner Kim Behrens finished 15th in the FIVB World Rankings and posted impressive ninth placed finishes in the Fort Lauderdale and Vienna Majors. Last month they began their 2019 season with a fifth place in the four-star tournament in The Hague.
The new duo will, like all of the new German partnerships – plus existing team Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider – have eyes on the next Olympics, for which qualification is already under way.
The team will be coached by Brazilian Ricardo ‘Vento’ Brunale de Andrade and former German beach player Kay Matysik.
“Sandra was my dream partner,” said Chantal. “With her as a block player I'm convinced that we can continue to stick to the Tokyo Olympics project. She has had huge development the last few years.”
On her new partner, Sandra said: “I am sure that with Chantal I will learn a lot and look forward to the tackling the challenges together with our coaches Kay and Vento.
“I am very grateful to Kim for the last one-and-a-half years and also very proud of our team, with whom we advanced to near the top of the world rankings. We have become good friends and I wish her the best.”
The resultant pairing means that Behrens is now seeking a new teammate for the 2019 season. But the 26-year-old wishes her ex-partner well with Chantal.
“I can understand Sandra’s decision,” said the defender. “She has gained a lot of experience on the World Tour.
“We were a great team and certainly had our successes.
“I fully accept that she does not want to miss this opportunity. We go our separate ways with a high five.”