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05.11.2014, 10:42
Cano: "In 2002 and 2003 the team was at its best"
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FEATURE: For our ‘Where are they now?’ series ahead of the Women's EHF EURO 2014 former French right wing Stephanie Cano looks back at the Women’s EHF EURO 2002 which turned to be the starting point for a successful era in French women’s handball
 

Cano: "In 2002 and 2003 the team was at its best"

Even though the Women’s EHF EURO 2002 in Denmark and the bronze medal France won at the event happened 12 years ago, the memories are still fresh in Stephanie Cano’s mind.

"I remember being in a very good shape, physically in my prime,” the right wing who turned 40 this year says.

"We've had a tough group phase, but managed to make it to the semi-final, where we lost against Norway."

However, disappointment did not last long in the French team and just a day later the team’s mindset had changed already. "Watching the other teams celebrating on the podium is a horrible feeling, we did not want that to happen."

And France played their hearts out, they beat Russia, and when the tournament came to an end Stephanie Cano was named as best right wing into the competition’s All-star team.

"Being elected was of course a big honour and I think that reaching the semi-finals with the team helped a lot," she says. "But I know there was a close competition back then, and that some other players deserved it as much as I did."

The bronze medal should not remain Cano’s only success with the national team as only one year later France topped the podium at the World Championship 2003 in Hungary.

"2002 and 2003 were the seasons when the team was at its best," says Cano.

"We had reached our emotional and physical maturity, and the bronze medal gained in Denmark surely gave us something to rely upon for the competitions that came afterwards."

"I have this motivation to share what I've learnt"

Cano continued to play handball until the age of 36, but nowadays she found her luck in a different profession, opening her own physiotherapist studio last year.

"After finishing with handball in 2010, I went back to school in Bordeaux. I had already started studies to become a physiotherapist during my active handball career, but it was too much to take at the time," she recalls.

"I made the most of the possibilities the French Handball Federation gave us. There are some programmes to help players settle in their ‘after-handball’ life, and it helped me finding my way.

"I had been interested in physiotherapy since I was young. And with all the knowledge and experience I gathered during my career makes it easier with patients now."

Besides that Cano also works on a small scale for Union Mios-Biganos Bègles, the club for which she played at the start of her career.

"I don't have any official role so far, I'm just helping out and give advice on small matters for now. If I can be of any help, whether it is with my public image or my experience, I'd be of course glad to help."

However, at least at the moment Cano has no intention to fully return to handball.

"I have this motivation to share what I've learnt. But it's a full-time job, not something you can do 30 minutes a day.

"It's not something I could fit in my timetable right now. Maybe when I'm retired, I'll think about it," she adds with a laugh.

But even though she is not directly involved in handball anymore, she follows the French national team closely.

"All these young players must write their own story. At times, it won't be easy, but that's how you become an important team.

"New leaders will emerge, and they've got to play one great competition, maybe already in December (at the Women’s EHF EURO 2014) as that would give them something to build on."


TEXT: Kevin Domas / ts
 
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