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Ludwig and Walkenhorst defy odds to end year as beach volleyball golden girls

 
Walkenhorst (left) and Ludwig top the World Championships podium in Vienna
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 30, 2017 – For a second consecutive year Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst ended the season as beach volleyball’s golden girls, though the odds appeared stacked against them at the start of 2017. 

Having finished 2016 as Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games gold medallists and FIVB World Tour Finals winners, the pair began the year with injuries, rather than more medals, most prevalent in their minds. 


Ludwig was out of action following surgery on her right shoulder, which forced Walkenhorst to play the season opening 5-Star event in Fort Lauderdale with Julia Grossner. Later in the season Walkenhorst had to take time off to deal with inflammation in one of her shoulder and Ludwig played the Porec Major with Margareta Kozuch. 

Nonetheless they hit their best form when it mattered and won gold at the Vienna 2017, FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and the Hamburg 2017, FIVB World Tour Finals. In fact, such was the nature of their season that they were the only two World Tour medals they won. 

“The fact that we would win the World Championship and the World Tour Final in Hamburg was almost unimaginable after we had barely played any tournaments,” Ludwig said.

“Perhaps with our issues we were more relaxed as we had nothing left to lose. But most importantly, we did not put our heads in the sand and trusted our team.”


Off the court Ludwig was named World Championships MVP, World Tour Most Outstanding Player, Best Defensive Player, Sportswomen of the Year and Most Inspirational Player.

The World Championships was the one major title missing from their collection and now means that their coach Jurgen Wagner has led men and women’s teams to Olympic, world and European titles after he guided Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann to gold at London 2012 and the 2009 World Championships. 

The pair are now allowing their bodies to recuperate, but they retain their ambition to add further success in 2018. 
 
“Beach volleyball is our life and our passion. We love to play and want to get better,” Ludwig said. “For this we must be diligent, the world is not sleeping. Beach volleyball is becoming more and more athletic and complex, and it is simply exciting to be able to participate.”



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