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18.11.2014, 15:23
The grand career that ended without an EHF EURO medal
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FEATURE: For its “Where are they now?-series, ehf-euro.com spoke to German record international Grit Jurack who talks about the EHF EURO 2006 in Sweden when an unsuccessful series of German fourth-rank finishes began
 

The grand career that ended without an EHF EURO medal

She is the most successful German female handball player of the last decade, but she never won a medal at EHF EURO events: Even though 37-year-old Grit Jurack won much more trophies on club level, including EHF Champions League titles with Viborg HK in 2006, 2009 and 2010, the national team has marked her career in similar fashion.

From 1996 until 2012 she wore the German jersey and became the record national team player with 306 matches as well as the overall best scorer with 1581 goals.

But her dream of winning silverware at an EHF EURO event never came true: "In 2006 and 2008 I won the wooden spoon," she jokes.

However, it is not 100 per cent correct that she never received a medal. "In 2006 in Sweden we as the fourth ranked team were decorated with some glass memorabilia, which was supposed to look like a medal."

Christmas decorating and household names

Looking back at her career, Jurack remembers that more often (and more successful judged by the bronze medals Germany won in 1997 and 2007) she played at World Championships.

"Unfortunately I was injured quite often prior to EURO events," she says.

And even the EHF EURO 2006 in Sweden started with sorrows for her: “In the preliminary round I was ill, could not play that much,” Jurack says.

So there are more ‘off court’ memories which Jurack still remembers from her stay in Gothenburg.

It has been a long tradition in the German team to decorate the rooms in the team hotel in Christmas fashion: "There was always a competition for the most colourful decorated room.

And I think in 2006 the winner was the room, in which my eventual Viborg teammate Anja Althaus was accommodated."

Furthermore the German team was accompanied by a big name of handball: The German-speaking wife of World Handball Player of the Century, Magnus Wislander, was the team guide.

"Max (Magnus) was attending a big number of our matches, just to see his wife," Jurack says.

On the sport side of thing the first main round match had already been decisive for the German team: By beating Hungary 34:27 they pushed the gate to the semi-finals wide open and eventually reached the knockout stage after winning against Austria and FYR Macedonia.

"We had constantly been among the top six of the world, we were world-class at that time," says Jurack.

The EHF EURO 2006 was the first major tournament for new German head coach Armin Emrich who led his team straight to Germany’s first EHF EURO Semi-final since 1994.

"To make it to the semis meant that we had to travel to Stockholm, playing in a side hall of the impressive Globen Arena," Jurack remembers.

But the luck they enjoyed in Gothenburg had disappeared in the Swedish capital.

After losing the semi-final against Russia (29:33), Jurack and Germany missed the bronze medal following a defeat against France (25:29).

An ambassador, but not a coach

However, one year after shedding tears in Stockholm, Germany got the medal they longed for: By beating Romania after extra time in a highly thrilling bronze medal match, the German women had reached the podium at the World Championship 2007.

Jurack became the event’s top scorer despite having to play with a broken finger in the crucial matches.

In 2008 at the EHF EURO in FYR Macedonia, she had broken a finger again - and this time she could not help her team that much in its second consecutive EHF EURO semi-final.

Germany were the favourites against Spain, but they lost – not only the semi-final, but also the match for third place against Russia, meaning they left once empty-handed.

"To finish two EHF EURO events on fourth position is really hard to compensate and it left a really bitter taste," Jurack says.

After suffering from severe shoulder problems, Jurack quit her handball career in autumn 2012.

The mother of two today is still involved in handball, but she states: "Never ever I will become a coach!"

In Denmark, where she last played, she had completed her sports management studies, field she would like to work in in the future.

Currently Jurack is one of the EHF EURO 2014 ambassadors, promoting the event in Germany, she is a lecturer at the German Federation’s school handball programme and she is the official ambassador of the World Championship 2017 in Germany.


The countdown clock to the Women's EHF EURO 2014 continues to tick down.

While the participating teams and its star players start getting in shape for the final tournament, we use the opportunity to look back at the stars from yesterday. The players that stood and occasionally still stand for success at the previous EHF EURO events.

Part 1: Norway's Kjersti Grini, who turned from handball star to poker ace, and the Women's EHF EURO 1998

Part 2: Denmark's Anette Hoffmann, who rose to handball fame in the 1990's, and the Women's EHF EURO 1996

Part 3: Hungary's Lajos Mocsai, the coach who steered Hungary to gold at the Women's EHF EURO 2000

Part 4: France's Stephanie Cano, who recalls her memories about the Women's EHF EURO 2002

Part 5: Ulrik Wilbek, who remembers Denmark's golden era which started with the EHF EURO 1994


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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