Germany shows character with strong wins at Canoe Polo World Championships

The final scorecard reveals nothing of the enormity of the result, but Germany’s 5-2 win over hosts Canada in the men’s competition of the ICF Canoe Polo World Championships could be one of the most important outcomes of the competition.

The entire German team, and the senior men’s squad in particular, were enveloped in tragedy and grief on the eve of the World Championships when teammate Fiete Junge died suddenly.

On Wednesday his former teammates responded in the best way possible in windy conditions in Welland, overcoming hosts Canada in a match coach Bjorn Zirotzki said was extremely difficult.

“He is all around us, all the time, and we are speaking about this,” Zirotzki said.

“It is sometimes difficult to concentrate on the game because there are much more important things in the world than canoe polo, and this is like this.

“But we are trying to do our best here and we have him in our heart. We are a team, and he is a member of our team. We want to do it as a team, and he is still a team member. It’s not for him, it is for all of us.”

The Germans won their second game of the day 5-0 over the Netherlands. There were also strong performances from the German women’s team and their men’s and women’s U21 teams, which all remain undefeated after two days of competition.

The German women had a 9-1 win over Chinese Taipei and an 8-0 result against Spain.

In the men’s competition, Spain also enjoyed a strong day with a 7-1 win over USA and an 8-4 victory against Chinese Taipei.

“It’s very important to start the championships winning,” Spanish coach George Perez Perez said.

“We’ve worked a lot this year for a great result, so I hope we can get to the semi-finals. After that, you never know.

“I think the big teams here are Germany, Italy and France.”

There were good days in the women’s competition for Great Britain, New Zealand, and Italy, who posted a 10-0 win over Japan and 4-0 result against Singapore.

“I’m very happy, the girls were very nervous,” Italian coach Francesca Ciancio said.

“I’m expecting that the team will do well at this tournament and that they can win a medal.

“The girls were very young at the last World Championships, and they have grown up since then.”

China is the only country making its debut in Welland, and while the women’s team lost 4-2 to Japan, coach Francois Barbey said it was a memorable experience for everyone.

The team had only a limited preparation because six of the ten team members competed in the ICF U23 Canoe Slalom Championships in Ivrea, Italy, last month.

And because of visa delays, the team only arrived in Welland on the day competition began.

“This is the beginning for China, and it is really important not just for China but also for canoe polo,” Barbey said.

“We were very late to get here, but in China it is no problem, they always find a solution. We arrived on Monday. We thought we would have all ten members of the team together for four days, but it turned out to be one day.

“4-2 for me is okay, it is not 20-0. My focus is the beginning, I want the girls to have a good World Championships, so if we continue like this I will be pretty okay.”

The only competition to have completed their pool play is the men’s U21, with Great Britain, Germany, Poland and France all heading their groups.

The ICF Canoe Polo World Championships will continue on Thursday.

Pic by Eric Vignet

Canoe Polo World Championships Welland Canada 2018

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