From the juniors to the top: Cholevová comes of age at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023

07 Dec. 2023

From the juniors to the top: Cholevová comes of age at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023

Two years ago, at the 2021 IHF Women’s World Championship, a 19-year-old left back was making her debut at the world handball flagship competition for Czechia. Charlotte Cholevová was already well-known for her potential, and she impressed at her maiden international senior competition, scoring 11 goals.

The time has passed and the left back made all the right steps towards her development: she was the joint top scorer at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship last summer, while now she broke into the best 10 goal scorers at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023, underlining her huge potential.

Coming from a handball family – her twin brother, Mathias Choleva, has already featured for the Czechia men’s national team – Charlotte has been getting better and better in the past two years, becoming a key staple of Bent Dahl’s team at only 21 years old.

Currently, she sits eighth in the top goal scorer standings, with 23 goals, four less than the top goal scorer, Camilla Herrem, and only three goals shy of Czechia’s Marketa Jerabkova, the most decorated player in the current roster and one of Cholevová’s idols.

“I definitely think that we will get better and better because we have girls in the team who want to improve and push themselves to the next level and that is the goal for success, hard training and hard work,” says the Czechia left back.

Indeed, with Dahl at the helm, who took over the team in 2022, Czechia have improved dramatically, qualifying with ease for Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023, after a 68:58 aggregate win over Switzerland, in the Qualification Europe Phase 2.

In this competition, Czechia are still in with a shot for the quarter-finals, as they are only two points down of leaders Spain and the Netherlands in Group IV of the main round, with a do-or-die clash against “Las Guerreras” following up.

“I would say that we had some very good games and I think that this team has a lot of potential, because we have a good mix of young players and some experienced players like Marketa Jerabkova and Veronika Mala, so I think that the core of the team is very good,” says Czechia’s left back. 

“Where we can go from here is very hard to say, because we always think only of the highest goals. Progressing from this main group would be excellent, it would a huge achievement for us.”

The past two years just underlined how much Cholevová has grown. From her maiden edition of the IHF Women’s World Championship, she went on to feature at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship in Slovenia, where Czechia finished 11th, and Cholevova joined Dutch left back Kim Molenaar as the joint top scorer of the competition, with 77 goals.

Then, Cholevová made the next step, shining in the EHF Champions League Women for DHK Banik Most. While the Czech champions did not win a match, losing all the 14 they played, the left back was the team’s top scorer, putting 77 goals past the opponents at only 20 years of age.

The best teams in Europe paid attention and Cholevová now is a player for Brest Bretagne Handball, while also becoming a key cog for Czechia, as Bent Dahl handed her a huge responsibility of featuring in the back line, where she has already shined, scoring 11 goals in the debut against Congo at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023.

Cholevová also slotted in excellently alongside Jerabkova in the back line and she confirmed her huge potential over the first four matches, scoring 23 goals.

“Honestly, I'm not surprised at these statistics, if I were to be honest, I would prefer if we finished in a better place in the final standings and I was, for example, outside the top 10 in the top goal scorer standings,” adds Cholevová. 

“It's a team sport and I don't pay much attention to these individual awards, of course it makes me happy, but I would be even happier if our team won every match.” 

But what makes Cholevová tick in handball? What is the biggest motivation?

“Ever since I was little, I set some goals that I want to achieve, so my focus now is checking them. However, what motivates me the most is my family, there is no better feeling in the world when your family tells you they are proud of what you achieved. Another motivation is my older brother, who couldn't fulfil his dream, so I try to play also for him and that is another big motivation,” concludes Cholevová.