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2016-06-03 13:07:00 CET

Olympic hopes hang in the balance in Hamburg

German girls’ Rio dreams go down to the wire next week

Katrin Holtwick and partner Ilka Semmler are officially the 11th best team in the provisional Olympic rankings but face a fight to make it as the second-best German team. Photo credit: Tomislav Moze.Katrin Holtwick and partner Ilka Semmler are officially the 11th best team in the provisional Olympic rankings but face a fight to make it as the second-best German team. Photo credit: Tomislav Moze.

In case you hadn’t realized, the smart Major Hamburg kicks off next week and it’s a pretty big deal – especially for Germany.

Why? Well not only because holding a Major Series stop is one of the best things in beach volleyball (obviously), but also because Olympic qualification will be decided once and for all after the sand has settled at the Rothenbaum Stadium.

It’s fair to say there’s a boom in beach volleyball in Deutschland right now. A quick click on the provisional Olympic qualification rankings tells its own story: four German women’s teams lie in the top 15 – yet only two can qualify (and if you don’t know why, read this).

With Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst assured of squidging the Copacabana sand between their toes this summer, the heat will be on in Hamburg next week as to who will join them. Karla Borger and Britta Büthe currently hold the upper hand over Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler – but only by the skinniest of margins: 330 points in fact.

But despite being one of the teams ‘from the outside looking in’ as the current third-best team from their homeland, Holtwick and Semmler are looking forward to strutting their stuff in Hamburg.

“It’s always good to play in Germany,” Holtwick told the FIVB. “In the last couple of years we’ve performed quite well in the German events. Only in 2014 it was not that good, but in the years before it was a good place for us to perform so we are looking forward to Hamburg.”

As one of four hugely successful women’s teams, Holtwick hopes the German fans will come out and support the home favorites at the Rothenbaum.

“If it’s the World Tour in Germany it’s even better,” says Holtwick. “People are more enthusiastic about having teams from other countries in Germany and see how different people play. It will be a great atmosphere in Hamburg.”

As a team Holtwick and Semmler competed at the last Olympics in London four years ago, finishing in ninth place.

But this summer they have a fight on their hands to even set foot on the plane to Rio – and that all comes down to how they perform in Hamburg.

“I think that’s amazing,” Holtwick said. “Everyone was waiting for such a moment and now it comes to the end in Hamburg. It’s great for all of us.”

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