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12.09.2016, 15:16
#GraciasEli: Emotional farewell for a Spanish handball legend
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FEATURE: With Eli Pinedo retiring from handball, Spain lose one of their key players and the team’s emotional leader only three months out of the EHF EURO 2016
 

#GraciasEli: Emotional farewell for a Spanish handball legend

35-year-old Eli Pinedo has been more than one of the greatest players in Spanish women’s handball. For the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 silver medallists and their fans she is a handball icon and one of the most high-profile women in Spain. Her courage, her passion and her will power have turned her into a player that many girls look up to.   

The Spanish national team and her club Balonmano Bera Bera will miss the goals and skills of the left wing on court, but probably they will miss even more her inspiration and leadership qualities. Pinedo is a real example of what it means to be a ‘guerrera’ – a warrior, the nickname for the Spanish internationals.

“Long time ago, my mind told me I should retire. If it had been my body, I would have trained more. But I wanted to leave handball at a top level, before my performances went down,” explained a tearful Pinedo on Friday. It was the first time she publicly spoke after she had announced her retirement following Spain’s quarter-final loss to France at the 2016 Olympic Games.

With more than 200 international games and 428 goals for Spain, Pinedo has been part of all major achievements of the Spanish national team: silver at the Women’s EHF EUROs in 2008 and 2014, bronze at the World Championship 2011 and the Olympic Games 2012. On the club level she won the EHF Cup with Itxako on top of numerous national championships and national cups with Itxako as well as Bera Bera.

Missed as a person and player

Spanish coach Jorge Dueñas said that he is not afraid of more players leaving the national team after Pinedo’s announcement. “I spoke with the players and none of them has the intention to stop playing for the national team.

“It’s too early to say if this (Pinedo’s retirement) will harm us ahead of the EURO. We have lost her as a personality, but we haven’t lost what she stood for.

“This team has the energy and potential to fight for the best positions, although the level in women’s handball has increased and every time it becomes more difficult and small details make the difference.

“First we will miss her as a person, then as a player. She could have continued playing, but I respect her decision.”

Right wing Marta López has been Pinedo’s roommate in the past and she knew about her friend’s plans.

“I suggested to her to play one more year, but when she had made up her mind, I gave her all my support because she is a woman with clear ideas; she knew what she wanted.

“I will miss her so much, even more this year as I signed for Bera Bera. I would have liked to enjoy this season with her in the club, but know it's time to step up and fight for everything she has shown us.”


TEXT: Laia Coll / ts
 
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