Furst, returners look to step up for German team

Laura Furst's experience will be integral in building up the national team. 24 Apr 2017
Woman in wheelchair goes for loose basketball while oppents guard her
ⒸGetty Images

“I think we need to find our team first and what our team is going to be and [then determine] what our goals are going to be"

As a Paralympic Games newbie, Laura Furst remembered how helpful it was to have Johanna Welin as a roommate during Rio 2016.

The 26-year-old said Welin, who was part of the London 2012 gold medal team, took her by the hand and showed her how things work at the mega sporting event such as navigating the Athletes’ Village.

Benefitting from her veteran teammates, Furst knows the roles will be flipped as the German women’s national team is expected to have a new look this season.

“We are losing a lot of veterans who have competed at a lot of Paralympic Games and who have been leaders on our team,” Furst said. “It’s going to be interesting but it is also going to open new spots and opportunities for everybody else to step up.

“We’re going to need some time to build up leadership on the team again and to learn through experiences. But I think we’re on a good way, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Two camps have already been held to determine the national team.

This time, it will be led under a new coach with Holger Glinicki retiring after guiding the team to every Paralympic finals since Beijing 2008.

At Rio 2016, the Germans’ back-to-back gold-medal dreams were crushed by the newly crowned US team.

Furst, a 2-point player, played modest minutes in the shadows of the heavy veteran club. But those minutes are expected to go a long way as the team looks for a return to Tokyo 2020.

“I think me and all the other girls who were on the team last year, who already had the experience of big tournaments, we need to step up as well and help our teammates get better by supporting them in every way,” Furst said.

As part of the squad that took European Championship gold in 2015, Furst did not state that the target at this year’s regional Championships – beginning 23 June in Tenerife, Spain – is defending their title. First, they need to play in competitions together as a national team to assess their potential.

“I think we need to find our team first and what our team is going to be and [then determine] what our goals are going to be,” Furst said.

“[For me personally] my goal is to compete at a high level, to make the best out of the team that we will have.”

“It’s not a new team,” she added. “There are still a lot of players from last year competing for spots on the national team. But at the same time we need to bring up a lot of new players and to build up a good team for Tokyo.”