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Kira Walkenhorst ends season to recover from viral infection

Kira Walkenhorst (left) and Laura Ludwig teamed up last year and immediately left their mark on the beach volleyball scene, winning this year's Shanghai Grand Slam and two bronze medals from the CEV European Championship
Frankfurt, Germany, July 3, 2014 - Kira Walkenhorst, the 2013 and 2014 European bronze medalist, has been suffering from the aftermath of a viral infection. The 23-year-old blocker contracted the Epstein-Barr virus in January and has struggled to regain form.

Though she and partner Laura Ludwig had a tremendous start to the 2014 season, winning the FIVB Grand Slam in Shanghai, bronze at the CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship in Cagliari as well as at the FIVB Prague Open, Walkenhorst is still far from full recovery and has therefore announced her intention to end her season now.

Walkenhorst will make the best of the opportunity to regenerate fully after the highs and lows of the past weeks, where she had to pull out from the Berlin Grand Slam before displaying a series of poor performances at the FIVB Stavanger Grand Slam last week. As for Laura Ludwig, she will continue her 2014 season with Julia Sude, a high-profile interim partner. The 2010 German champion – who just won gold at the Military World Championships – will step in for Kira Walkenhorst for the remainder of the season.

"It is a big blow and right now I am in a bad mood," Walkenhorst explained, "but not to endanger the achievement of our biggest goal, which is to win a medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, I think that this break is the only reasonable decision."

"We worked really hard throughout the winter season and started our campaign with a lot of confidence," partner Ludwig said. "Next year we will start from where we left off now."

"I have a lot of respect for the professional decision that was taken by both players," said their coach Jürgen Wagner. "It is not that easy for a young athlete like Kira to step back and prioritise a long-term goal over immediate success. I am confident that Kira will come back even stronger after this break."

"It is a challenge for me to play with Germany’s most successful player of all times but at the same time it is a great opportunity and I am looking forward to the upcoming competitions," said Julia Sude.

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