'I am tough - but with a smile on my face' says HammersengArticle
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The Larvik stalwart talks about reaching the Women's EHF Champions League final and the mental advantages her team possesses

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'I am tough - but with a smile on my face' says Hammerseng

Three days after her 33rd birthday, Gro Hammerseng rewarded herself and her team on Saturday (13 April) with reaching the final of the Women's EHF Champions League.

The prolific stalwart of Larvik HK was one of the leaders on the field during the confident 27:19 victory against Krim Mercator.

Like for the most of her teammates the two matches against Audi ETO Györ in May will be Hammerseng’s second EHF Champions League final after winning the trophy against Itxako (Spain) in 2011.

In the long and successful career of Hammerseng only one title is missing: a gold medal from the world championship gold.

She is Olympic champion, three times EHF EURO champion, world championship silver medallist, World Handball Player of the Year – and for about one year now, she is also the mother of a son.

Therefore Hammerseng missed the past season, as she neither she played for the national team (which she quit some weeks ago) nor for Larvik HK.

But with her comeback at the start of the season, Larvik are back on top – counting on her and their other experienced players.

In this exclusive interview with ehfCL.com, Gro Hammerseng talks about reaching the Women's EHF Champions League finals, her favourite style of playing and the upcoming opponent from Györ.

ehfCL.com: After losing the first leg 22:24 – how much confidence did you have that you and Larvik would climb the hurdle in Ljubljana?

Gro Hammerseng: To be honest: We arrived in Ljubljana absolutely relaxed and this confidence felt great. It was the really huge belief in ourselves which brought us to the final. Look, though the club successfully integrated some younger players, we have a really experienced team. This is what counted.

ehfCL.com: Has the famous and often-mentioned typical Norwegian winning mentality been another key to success?

Gro Hammerseng:  I heard a lot about this Norwegian mentality from outside, but as a player you just play. Maybe it is our typical style that one helps the other, when the player backs the team and the team backs the player.

I know, when I fail, my teammates help me out. This strengthens our team – and maybe you can call it mentality.

ehfCL.com: By watching you and your teammates in this crucial match against Krim, Larvik showed an absolute easiness and even fun on the court. . .

Gro Hammerseng: I can be a tough player, especially in defence, but I always have a smile on my face. To play handball means an absolute joy for me and I want to have fun on the court, that’s true.

But of course, sometimes I can get really angry (Hammerseng is smiling all over her face, while saying this).

ehfCL.com: Will you also smile on 11 or 12 May when the final whistle of the second final leg will be blown?

Gro Hammerseng:  I want to smile, but it will be two tough matches. Györ are the favourite after the stunning season they played, but they haven’t won the title yet, still having two matches ahead. The final consists of two highly experienced teams.

ehfCL.com: And of Norwegian players on both sides. . .

Gro Hammerseng: Yes, it is something special to face Heidi Løke and Katrine Lunde – and don’t forget what you asked before: they have the same Norwegian mentality.

We knew that Heidi believed in us. After she had reached the final with Györ, she texted me, that she will cross the fingers for us. And I believed in Györ even when they were down by six against Vâlcea. I am really looking forward to those finals.

ehfCL.com: Are Larvik able to extend the unlucky Györ series – no title after seven finals?

Gro Hammerseng: Just wait and see.

Photos: Uroš Hočevar

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts