Gold on Marina Mohnen’s mind

Different Games, same expectations for the German women’s wheelchair basketball team. 17 Feb 2016
Marina Mohnen of Germany

Marina Mohnen of Germany

ⒸGetty Images
By Laurie Lawira | For the IPC

For the last four years, the feeling of winning another Paralympic gold medal has been on Marina Mohnen’s mind.

“That [winning a medal] is always what you want to do, because that’s what you train for,” said Mohnen, who is captain of Germany’s women’s wheelchair basketball team.

The 37-year-old was instrumental in her team’s success in London 2012, scoring 11 points in the gold medal game against Australia, and showing Germany’s strength ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The 58-44 win over Australia – a team that had consistently been a Paralympic podium finisher – bettered the silver medal Mohnen won at her debut Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008. After taking another step up at London 2012, Germany’s expectations at Rio 2016 are set.

“Especially in Germany, a lot of people are expecting us to stay on top,” said Mohnen, two-time Paralympian and winner of five European Championships. “It’s really difficult to stay on top and it’ll be very difficult again this year to win any medals.”

“In Beijing, it was my first Paralympics and we had quite a new team. And at that point, we were not the favourites. So we were a very young and upcoming team, and we won silver. It was a big surprise for us and a huge success to win silver. Then after that, we got better and better. And then in London, we were on top. So it’s a different situation now [with Rio].”

“You can’t really compare the different Paralympics because it’s always a different situation, different players,” Mohnen added.

While defending a title is one challenge, staying healthy in between Paralympic Games is another.

Mohnen is recovering from a recent shoulder surgery. She played injured during the course of the European Championships in August 2015. That did not stop her from averaging 18.5 points, and scoring 21 in the final against the Netherlands, helping her team regain the crown they had lost in 2013.

The surgery, Mohnen said, was necessary, and the German is confident she will be at full strength and pain-free well before Rio’s Opening Ceremony on 7 September.

With the German wheelchair basketball club season entering playoff time, and national team training for Rio set to begin at the end of May, Mohnen still has time to recover. She missed a trip to Japan for the Osaka Cup in early February, where her teammates went undefeated in the four-team tournament, beating Great Britain 55-44 in the final.

“There are teams, like always, the Netherlands, USA, Canada and Great Britain, and I don’t know about China but they knocked Australia out of Rio so I guess they are very good as well,” she said.

“We will spend a lot of time together; lots of games, lots of training, and we hope that in Rio we‘ll be at the point where we are as prepared as the other teams,” said Mohnen, referring to teams like the Netherlands and Great Britain who train together all year long.

Four months training together as a team will be sufficient to give the German women momentum leading up to Rio. Although Germany may possibly field a different team to one that took gold four years ago, consistency in trainings and understanding each other’s game are key, according to Mohnen.

“It doesn’t help when … you’re playing great in July but [not] in September,” Mohnen said. “So it’s very important to be at your best when it’s important.”

Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.