Positive energy – on and off courtArticle
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Larvik HK’s Gro Hammerseng believes that hard work is key to success.

»EHF CL Channel »2010-11 Women's News

Positive energy – on and off court

Larvik HK continuously improved their game play over the last few years. While the Norwegians said farewell after the Group Phase of the EHF Champions League in season 2008/2009, they marched as far as the semi-final in the last year, where they lost to the recent title-holders, Danish Viborg HK.

In the summer, Norway’s leading club was very active in the transfer market, with the club directors managing to sign several high class domestic players from the Danish league, among them Gro Hammerseng.

The playmaker has won many great titles on a National Team level but has somehow still missed great success with her clubs.

Hammerseng returned home after seven seasons at Ikast / FC Midtjylland. "I love to be back in Norway after so many years spent in Denmark, it feels very good," said the middle back.

With the strengthened squad, Larvik aimed high at the season’s beginning. Which seems logical, as the team is based around the core players of the Norwegian National Team that has dominated world handball for several years. In addition they have a very experienced goalkeeping duo in Lene Rantala and Cecilie Leganger.

With the goal of reaching the top of Europe’s elite handball tournament, the EHF Champions League, Larvik dominated the Group Phase, winning all of their games, except the last one in Râmnicu Vâlcea. To that match they travelled with their B-team, knowing that they already had won the group.

The early January 2011 announcement that coach Karl Erik Bøhn’s cooperation with the Larvik club had come to an end came as shocking news. For Hammerseng "the 'case' is closed now. I focus on playing the best I can. Of course it was a difficult situation for everyone involved, but our team is very focused on its tasks at the moment."

Despite the change of coach, everything went well in the Main Round until they met Hungary’s champion Györi Audi ETO on home soil, who crushed a totally unfocused Larvik team in a clear manner, and by a high margin.

On that day, the Norwegian club had to play without their superstar Hammerseng who was reportedly ill prior to the match: "I felt so bad about this game. I wanted to be on court to fight with my team-mates," the playmaker remembers.

"In this match the Hungarians simply played better than us. It was a good day for them and a bad day for us. I think the next match against them will be different," she added.

Hammerseng was back for the next round and led her side to victory in Russia. This meant that, with Leipzig losing the points against Győr, the Norwegians already qualified for the semi-final stage, repeating their success of last season.

Still, the main objective of reaching number one position in the group will probably depend on the last round match against the Hungarian champions: "Our target has not changed, we’ll try to clinch victory in every match and we’ll see how far this takes us," continued the 30-year-old.

Larvik haven’t been knocked off-course by the home defeat against Győr, as they’ve underlined their strength in their domestic league, and have beaten Volgograd in a most impressive manner: "It felt great to be playing again. We were prepared for a difficult match in Russia. I don’t think that any of us expected to win by that many goals. We were very surprised when we recognized that Anna Kochetova and Olga Levina wouldn’t play. It’s a different team without those two, but at the end we were very happy to win," added Hammerseng.

She showed optimism before the final, decisive matches of the EHF Champions League:

"It’s very important that we continue believing in ourselves and that we are ready to focus on hard work for a victory. I think it will be good for us if we can manage to play our quick game plan in top gear."

Larvik’s chase for place one in the Main Round home game against the German champions from Leipzig will be broadcast as a free-of-charge live web stream on ehfTV.com.

EHF Women’s Champions League, Main Round, Round 5
Saturday 12 March 2011, 16:45 hrs (local time)
Larvik HK (NOR) vs. HC Leipzig (GER)

ehfTV.com is the official Internet TV platform of the European Handball Federation and offers free live streaming as well as a video on demand service.

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs