306 international matches, 1579 goals – no other German female handball players is even close to those records of Grit Jurack. Thanks to her domestic and international prominence, the 39 year old was selected ambassador of the Women’s World Championship in Germany 2017. The Leipzig born right back have won the EHF Champions League three times with her former Danish club Viborg, took two bronze medals at World Championships (1997, 2007) with the national team and was Olympian twice in 1996 and 2008.
On Tuesday, Grit Jurack drew the lots for the preliminary rounds of Germany 2017 in Hamburg, the hosting city of the final weekend of the World Championship – and later talked about her anticipation in this interview. The mother of two sons works as a journalist for the German-Danish newspaper Flensborg Avis after studying sports management before.
Are you satisfied with how you had composed the groups for Germany 2017 – mainly with the focus on the German team?
Grit Jurack: „I guess the German team is not unhappy with my draws. It is clearly manageable for them to proceed from the first stage. I believe the players – like me – are satisfied with the opponents Netherlands, Serbia, Korea, China and Cameroon."
What do you expect of the German team on home turf?
Grit Jurack: „They will definitely prove their strength. In my opinion, Netherlands are the slim favourites in this group, right below, I expect Germany, Serbia and Korea. I am sure the Germans will make it to Hamburg, at least to the semis. I witnessed their last and victorious test match against Denmark, when they showed their high potential. Backed by the spectators, we can expect a lot from this team."
Exactly 20 years ago, you experienced a World Championship on home ground – how fresh are your memories?
Grit Jurack: „Extremely fresh, as it was my first ever World Championship, and immediately it took place in my home country. It was an impressive experience. I still remember the great support from the stands when we played at Sindelfingen – as well as in Berlin, where we finally took the bronze medals. I played so many World and European Championships, but the best was the one at home. I hope Germany can manage to organize another perfect event, therefore we are famous. I believe it will be great for fans and teams."
Around five months prior to the opening match at your birth place Leipzig – how huge is your anticipation for Germany 2017 already?
Grit Jurack: „When I saw this TV trailer for the World Championship, I was on a highflyer already and felt this great anticipation. To be here in Hamburg, where the medals will be handed over at the end of the final weekend, is another emotional boost, as I was here quite often as ambassador."
How close is your contact to the current German team?
Grit Jurack: „Mostly I am in touch with those players I had been playing together in the national team like Anna Loerper, Clara Woltering, Isabell Klein, Anne Hubinger or Isabell Klein. Some more I know from my time as team manager under the helm of former national team coach Jakob Vestergaard."
Which are your favourites for standing on the winners’ podium on 17 December in Hamburg?
Grit Jurack: „Mainly the ‘usual suspects’ such as World and European Champion Norway, Russia, France – as they will host the next EURO – or the Netherlands. As mentioned, the German team have the potential for a surprise. I am curious how the non-European teams Angola and Brazil will perform. They might not fight for the medals, but can enhance the tournament. I would be happy, if the African sides Angola and Tunisia would proceed from the eighth-finals."