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08.09.2016, 11:00
In 2008, years of hard work paid off for Kristine Lunde-Borgersen
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HEROES OF THE FINAL: Kristine Lunde-Borgersen looks back at the Women’s EHF EURO 2008 Final, with Norway’s gold medal being the icing on the cake for the All-star centre back
 

In 2008, years of hard work paid off for Kristine Lunde-Borgersen

For many years, the Lunde twins, Katrine and Kristine, had the status of legends in the Norwegian national team when Katrine played in goal and Kristine was the team’s playmaker.

The sisters were vital for Norway’s success in the first decade of this century. These days Katrine, who is three minutes older than Kristine, still takes to the court for the national team and Russian top-side Rostov-Don; Kristine has retired. She is now the assistant coach at Norwegian EHF Cup participants Vipers Kristiansand.

However, the Women’s EHF EURO 2008 in FYR Macedonia was clearly Kristine’s time to shine and turned her into an apt choice for the second part of our “Heroes of the final” series.

In the final, Norway beat Spain 34:21 (13:12) to win their fourth EHF EURO gold medal. Kristine Lunde was awarded the match’s best player as well as the championship’s All-star centre back.

“We had prepared for an equal and tough final, just like matches against Spain usually were and are.

 “The match then turned out exactly as we imagined. It was a tough match, which went our way in the end, but which felt much more equal than the result indicated,” remembers Kristine Lunde-Borgersen.

Harvesting the fruits of hard labour

Norway had reached the final in undefeated fashion, only losing one point along the way when they drew 21:21 against their eventual opponents in the final, Spain, in the main round.

“At this championship, we had a squad of players who had been working hard together for many years. This was the event at which we harvested the fruits of our hard work in the years ahead,” she says.

“I also remember us being very focused. We did not read any media nor did we listen to what others thought of our next match and our next opponent. This is crucial for being able to performing at top level match after match,” she explains.

The nomination to the All-star team was an extra bonus for the centre back. “When I look back, it’s something I’m proud of, especially as I had just returned from a shoulder surgery,” Lunde-Borgersen recalls.

The championship took place only three months after the Beijing Olympics at which Norway had also won gold, but Lunde and her teammates had no difficulties motivating themselves to go all the way again.

“We had more or less the same team at the EURO and the Olympics. It was basically a question of continuing the same hard work with the same players.

“Furthermore, ‘everybody’ always wants to defeat the defending champions and this is an extra motivation to keep the challengers at an arm’s length distance,” she says.

Training and winning culture are key

The victory in 2008 was Norway’s third consecutive EHF EURO title, the fourth overall, and the Norwegians won again in 2010 and 2014 – not to mention their Olympic golds and World Championship medals they also won.

“I think we have a very good training and winning culture,” says Lunde-Borgersen. “There has been continuity all around: among the coaches, the administration, the medical staff and the players. This has made us so strong.

However, looking ahead to the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 in Sweden, there is no time to rest on the laurels.

“Many countries have become much more professional in crucial areas. They can challenge Norway more than before. It will take a lot for Norway to stay up front,” expects Lunde-Borgersen.

“There are many medal contenders (at the EHF EURO 2016) and much will depend on which teams peak at the right time. I would point at the four semi-finalists from the Olympics, Norway, Russia, the Netherlands and France, as the biggest favourites.

“I also expect Sweden to be strong on home ground and Hungary also arrive with an interesting team. It will be an open and close championship,” says Kristine Lunde-Borgersen.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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