06.02.2019 - World Champs Hamburg
Chantal Laboureur has spoken out about her surprise split from long-time teammate Julia Sude.
The 29-year-old defender was left without a partner just weeks into the new year after Sude joined forces with Karla Borger to form a new team in the wake of Olympic champion Kira Walkenhorst’s retirement.
The pair, who had twice won Beach Major Series tournaments together, ended the 2018 season in sixth place in the FIVB World Rankings and were hotly tipped for more success in 2019.
However, on Chantal’s 29th birthday of all days, Julia announced her decision that she would be entering the Olympic run without her.
“Julia told me in person about the split, but there was nothing I could say, her decision had already been fixed,” Chantal explains to beachmajorseries.com. “She told me about her reasons to split, and those reasons – which I won’t say – were not, in my opinion strong enough to split the team. Where we have been, what we have achieved and where we wanted to go as a team.”
Chantal and Julia had shared the same side of the sand since 2013, winning 10 medals on the international scene and narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Rio Olympics in 2016.
With the team in seemingly a good position – the pair were the highest of the four main German women’s teams in the rankings – to challenge for Tokyo, it was the timing of the split that hurt Chantal the most.
“At the beginning it was really hard. Those first few days I was thinking every free minute ‘why?’” admits Chantal. “Of course for me I wanted the team to continue but I knew that it wasn’t an option.
“I didn’t expect these changes this year, especially not during an Olympic race.
“I saw no reason to split. To say I was surprised was an understatement.”
However despite the disappointment, Chantal is determined to make it to Japan in 2020.
And she plans to do so with her new partner: Sandra Ittlinger, the 24-year-old blocker who impressed during the 2018 season with Kim Behrens.
“I had no time to sit around and feel sorry for myself, I had to collect my thoughts and needed to find a new partner,” explains Chantal.
“Sandra and Kim had a great season and I saw the potential in Sandra,” says Chantal. “She had developed really well in the last few years, and I liked her fighting spirit, energy and joy on the court.
“I know how Kim must be feeling. It wasn’t my goal to put someone in that situation. It was hard for me because we know each other well, we have been living and practicing in the same city and I hope she finds a new partner soon.
“My goal was always to go the Olympics. I had a big dream with Julia, I thought we had big chances to make that happen.
“That’s what I want more than anything, and I want to make it happen by showing it on the court with Sandra.”
Chantal and Sandra have eyes on the four-star tournament in Xiamen as the starting point in April before they focus on what promises to be a mouthwatering World Championships on home sand in Hamburg in July.
With four top German teams, three of which will be new partnerships, battling for the affection of the passionate crowd, Chantal is looking forward to proving herself on the sand this summer.
“I’ll use all the experience I’ve collected in the last few years and pass than onto Sandra,” says Chantal. “I’m convinced she will be great. Plus, I’ve developed a lot of skills myself over the last years.
“I’m curious how the other teams and ours will fare. The team that have the biggest advantage in my opinion is Bieneck/Schneider. They’ve played together for some years now. But I’m focusing on the development of our team of course, the rest I cannot change anyway.
“For me, it’s for sure not been an easy time. It wasn’t the best birthday this year, but I’m really looking forward to the next period, the next days, months and years. The race is open!”