Bölk: "We will be crazy happy with a medal"
05 Dec. 2023
At only 25 years old, Emily Bölk is now one of the leaders of the current Germany team at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship, being the second most capped player in Markus Gaugisch’s squad, with 98 matches, only seven caps shy of Xenia Smits, who played 105 times for the European side.
But Bölk, who announced herself on the big stage at the 2014 IHF Women’s World Championship, where she was named the MVP of the competition after helping Germany seal the silver medal, has morphed into one of the best defenders in women’s handball and a true leader on the court, for both club – FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria – and country.
Now, at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023, Germany are eyeing another quarter-finals berth, a feature which they had already achieved at Japan 2019 and Spain 2021, when they finished eighth and seventh respectively.
“This has been a really good start of the World Championship for us, with three wins, and we are on a roll now. Sure, the start might have been different, because we won against Japan thanks to Xenia scoring a goal with two seconds left on the clock, but from that moment on, everything clicked for us,” says Bölk.
“Especially the last win against Poland was huge for us and we are very confident for the main round, because we will start with four points, which will be very important, because we face very tough sides, like Denmark and Romania.”
None of those hard clashes are an unknown quantity for Bölk, who is at her fourth edition of the IHF Women’s World Championship, despite being only 25 years old. She made her debut at Germany 2017, when she was only 17, when Germany crashed out early, in the Round of 16.
But she grew to be more of a leader, especially in defence – she is the leader in steals for Germany at this edition of the world handball flagship competition - coming of age relatively early, as she became a cornerstone of the team in a short amount of time, becoming a mainstay on the left back position.
With 323 goals for the German side, Bölk is somewhat of 100 goals shy of breaking into the all-time top 10 for her side, but still has plenty of time, especially as she is now one of the most experienced players in the squad, with Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023 being her eighth major international competition.
“We are a very good group, we are enjoying playing together and I think we are one of the most consistent squads in Europe and the world, which means something right now. I would not say I am a leader of the team, but I have plenty of experience and this is important, because I know what to expect in such competitions, which have a lot of matches in a short amount of time,” says Germany’s left back.
Since their last medal at the IHF Women’s World Championship, at France 2007, Germany have always competed, but failed to reach the podium, something which might change here, as the good start in Herning really got the team going.
“We would be crazy happy to seal a medal here. Of course, one of our objective is finish as high as possible, so we can reach the Olympic Qualification Tournaments next year. But a medal would be something else. This is something of a dream to be honest, something which I dreamt about since I was a little kid, starting to play handball,” says the German left back.
Bölk might know a thing or two about winning the IHF Women’s World Championship. 30 years ago, Germany won their last major international competition, at Norway 1993, with a flawless performance, delivering a huge 22:21 extra-time win in the final against Denmark.
Emily’s mother, Andrea Bölk, was one of the Germany players back then, four years before the current Germany left back was even born. And Emily was always at her mother’s side, with tales about that performance rubbing on her before even starting to play handball.
“I always heard my mother talk about that performance, so, like I have previously said, it has been like a dream. Bringing back a medal around our necks after this World Championship would be something very special and something that would make us really proud,” concludes Bölk.
Until that moment, though, Germany would need six more flawless performances, something which is not impossible, judging from the 33:17 win against Poland, where Germany showed their true might. Repeat such performances and a medal just might be on the cards.