Cape Town, South Africa - elite16 - Beach Pro Tour 2022 - News


The Rio Olympic champion celebrates a point during the Cape Town Elite16

It had been more than a year since Laura Ludwig last played a beach volleyball match, but when she hit the sand on Thursday, the German star looked ready for action.

She had a new partner by her side in former volleyball star Louisa Lippmann, but the fighting spirit, the emotional explosions, the aggressive playing style and the spectacular plays were all very much still part of the 36-year-old Olympic champion’s game.

· Watch all matches at the Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Cape Town live on Volleyball TV.

A four-time Olympian, Ludwig had last played during last year’s Tokyo Olympics, 15 months ago, when partner Margareta Kozuch and her finished fifth. The legendary defender announced she was expecting her second child later that year and gave birth to Lenny in May.

In her return to official competition at the Cape Town Elite16, Ludwig had good moments alongside Lippmann against Americans Megan Kraft and Emily Stockman, but the Germans couldn’t avoid a 2-0 (19-21, 15-21) defeat in their first Pool D match at the Grand Parade.

“It was great to realise that the feeling is still there, I like it,” Ludwig commented. “I love competing and I was definitely nervous, but the people here in Cape Town have been really nice. They were hyping everyone up and it felt great to be on the court again.”

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If it was easy to see Ludwig remains the same as ever on court, she admits she has changed with Lenny’s birth. The challenges of raising two kids and resuming her beach volleyball career have made the German star approach her daily routine a little differently.

“I would say that my mindset remains the same – I still expect a lot from myself,” she added. “Maybe I am a little bit more patient now, but I still want to be at 100% with everything I do and that sometimes takes a toll on my body. I feel a little bit more relaxed now, I don’t get crazy if I am one minute late to practise anymore, and the team has been great in understanding it and helping me with handling my routine. Louisa is very sweet with my kids, she’s even put them to sleep recently.”


Ludwig and Lippmann in action during their first match as partners

Ludwig and Lippman’s journey as partners didn’t start with a victory, but they still have time to change their fate in Cape Town. Despite the early upset, the two still have two more pool play matches on Friday to try to finish among the top two teams in Pool D and advance to the quarterfinals.

The Germans will face Japan’s Suzuka Hashimoto and Reika Murakami at 10.00 local time (8.00 GMT) and Slovenians Tjasa Kotnik and Tajda Lovsin later at 20.00 local time (18.00 GMT).

“It’s still all very new, but it was also exciting,” Lippmann, who had played in a Beach Pro Tour event in the Maldives with Anna-Lena Grune in October, commented. “I was very happy to be with Laura here and that we’re having the chance to get our first matches and our first tournament as partners in Cape Town and we want to make the most of it.”