‘Like a child in a candy shop’ – Polman ready for Paris 2024 after national team return

09 May. 2024

‘Like a child in a candy shop’ – Polman ready for Paris 2024 after national team return

After being rested for their clashes against Argentina and Czechia at the 2024 IHF Women’s Qualification Tournament #2 in Torrevieja, Spain, inspirational Dutch backcourt player Estavana Polman made her tournament bow against Spain in their final match, guiding her side to a come-from-behind 27:26 victory.

Ahead of the game, both teams had already qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, but in an unexpectedly tense and high-level game, Polman came on for 14 minutes to guide her side to a win and make it three from three in southern Spain.

“I was like a little child in a candy shop, I smiled all the time,” said Polman to about playing for her country for the first time since their 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship loss against Norway late last year.

“I was like; ‘hey, I'm going in again’. To feel this ball, this is why you train hard. This (feeling) is why you put in those lonely hours in the gym to come back – I  am really, really happy I could step on the court and be a part of the team.

“It’s for the feeling, to say goodbye from this tournament with a win by one against Spain, in the home country,” she added about her side going all in for a perfect record in Torrevieja, sealed with a last-second save from Yara Ten Holte.

“We went in serious and wanted to win, but if you win in the last seconds, it's just a really good feeling. We are really happy and now we are only looking forward to the Olympics and hope to see Spain there again.”

After the Netherlands’ breakthrough IHF Women’s World Championship silver medal in 2015, the team then qualified for their first-ever Olympic Games, at Rio 2016, but suffered heartbreak, losing the bronze medal match to Norway.

The Dutch then stepped up to win the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship, where Polman was voted MVP and the side looked set to move up the Olympic podium at Tokyo 2020 before covid struck and delayed it by a year.

In-between, Polman suffered a knee injury, before a comeback saw her injure it again, ruling her out of the Games, then held in 2021.

Despite those setbacks, Polman is gradually building up game time with her nation and is well-aware of what this summer could mean for her and the Dutch side.

“I had a lot of struggles, but it’s going in the right direction and now I want it over,” said Polman about her return to full action from those long-term injuries.

“I have some good people now we are working with and I hope they're going to give me back my body as an 18-year-old girl again. I look [at] the way forward; I’m training hard and it's going in the right direction now.

“I'm really excited. It's not like it's happening ‘just like this’,” says Polman with a click of her fingers about the strength needed to qualify for an Olympic Games.

“You know, it's really special. We have to realise that it's really special to participate in the Olympics. We are there again. For some people, it's number three and for some people it’s going to be the first.

“They have to enjoy it because it’s what I say; it's not that easy to come there. I'm really looking forward [to Paris 2024].”