An important victory for all of usArticle
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FEATURE: Russian playmaker recalls a historic moment period of women’s handball in Russia, including the EHF Champions League win in 2008 with Zvezda

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An important victory for all of us

Irina Poltoratskaya started training when she was only 10 years old in the handball school of Rostov.

“In Russia coaches usually choose tall kids to train handball. At that time I didn’t really meet that criteria but I really wanted to play handball and literally begged the coach to take me while he was looking for taller kids. At that time I never thought that handball will become my life,” Poltoratskaya recalled with a smile.

Poltoratskaya started her career in “Rostelmash” from Rostov Don and with this team won the Russian championship. Her second team was Lada Togliatti, where she played for four seasons, winning the championship a further three times. The decision to move to Slagelse in 2005, brought her a first victory in the EHF Champions League and the return in Russia to Zvezda Zveningorod saw her successful once again in the European club handball’s top competition.

Golden streak

She has many handball achievements with the Russian national team, as she won the World Championship three times, 2001 in Italy, 2005 in Russia and 2007 in France. 

“With the Russian national team I had plenty of success and definitely some of my most memorable handball matches are coming from the finals at the World Championship. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to stand on the highest place at the podium three times and these feelings are wonderful,” said Irina.

Poltoratskaya also has a silver medal from the EHF EURO 2006 in Sweden and a bronze medal from the same competition in FYR Macedonia. The most remarkable experience for Irina is the second place at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

In her club career, for the first time in the history of Russian handball, Poltoratskaya and Zvezda won the EHF Champions League in the 2007/08 season.

“We had just won the World Championship in France, and in this period Zvezda was composed mostly of players in the national team of Russia. Our main goal was the Olympic Games in Bejing and no one thought that we would also be able to win the Champions League,” said Irina

“In the semi-final we lost from Györ at home by two goals and everyone thought that this is the end for us in this competition, but then we worked hard to find out where our mistakes were and we managed to overcome them in the away match and claimed our ticket to the final.”

“In the final match we played against Hypo. We had a one-goal lead going into the decisive match in Austria and then we won there too. We were very happy that for the first time, a Russian handball club won the Champions League. This was a very important victory for all of us and Russia still remembers this great achievement,” said the 35-year-old.

All four have a chance

Poltoratskaya quit handball in 2010. From her perspective, handball hasn’t changed a lot during this time. Although the game has become faster, in her opinion that is not an advantage because it brings lots of mistakes on the court.

Before the first MVM EHF FINAL4 in Budapest Irina has a positive impression for this event: “I really like the idea about FINAL4 in women’s handball. If we look at men’s handball we can see how big this event is and I hope that this will also be a very big handball holiday for all handball fans.”

When asked for the teams that will fight for the title this season, Irina believes that all teams have a chance to win the competition.

“I think Györ have a small advantage, because the team has a somewhat of a home advantage and will have the support of many fans, but I think all four teams are somewhere at the same level.

“Györ and Buducnost have already won the competition and are playing for some time together, but I can’t say that this will be decisive factor. I would like to watch great handball and wish good luck too all teams, but still my support goes only to Vardar,” concluded Irina.

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cor