2018-05-15 09:00:00 CEST

Get to know Kira’s new blocker

Meet Leonie Körtzinger, the Olympic and world champion’s partner for the next few months

Körtzinger has played in only four World Tour events in her career (Photocredit: FIVB)Körtzinger has played in only four World Tour events in her career (Photocredit: FIVB)

Imagine that you are a 21-year-old beach volleyball player with very limited international experience and, all of a sudden, the reigning Olympic and world champion invites you to be her partner for the next few months. It looks too good to be even real, right?

Well, that’s what happened with Leonie Körtzinger a few days ago.

An up-and-coming product from the German factory of champions, the blocker will have the unique opportunity of playing with beach volleyball star Kira Walkenhorst in the next months. The reigning Olympic and world champion is recovering from recent hip and shoulder injuries and was looking for a temporary partner while Laura Ludwig is on a ‘baby break’ and due to give birth in June.

“I’m very excited,” Körtzinger told beachmajorseries.com. “I couldn’t have a better option and I’m really looking forward to the experiences I’ll have by her side. Of course she’s the Olympic and world champion and she has all my respect for that, but that’s not how I see her.”

“To me, she’s a new defender, one who’s really excited and heated up to play and compete. It’s going to be very fun sharing the court with her.”

German Volleyball on Twitter

Kira has announced her new partner for the 2018 #beachvolleyball season: It´s the 21 years old block player Leonie Körtzinger💪

The unexpected call couldn’t have happened in a better moment for Körtzinger. After winning one stop of the German Tour last year, the blocker was set to start the 2018 season with World Tour veteran Julia Grossner, but a last-minute retirement decision made by the defender left her without a partner.

With Walkenhorst, Körtzinger will keep her blocker role while the veteran will play as a defender for the first time on her career.

“It was a real shock when I knew about Julia’s retirement, but it was even more surprising when Kira and her coach invited me to play with her,” the young blocker added. “I didn’t even have to think about it.”

“I know I can learn a lot from Kira and that I will collect so many experiences. Not only technical stuff, but also from a mentality standpoint. Her off-the-court behavior is amazing and I’ll have an opportunity to have a closer look at it.”

Palais Vest Cup #karitraa #ktambassador #happier #healthy #stronger #miseenplace #dankean Hans Dreischmeier 📸

66 Likes, 2 Comments - Leonie Körtzinger (@koertzi) on Instagram: "Palais Vest Cup #karitraa #ktambassador #happier #healthy #stronger #miseenplace #dankean Hans..."

Körtzinger sees the unique opportunity as a win-win situation for both her and Kira. As a young player with just four World Tour tournaments under her belt (and a fourth place finish in the one-star event in Shepparton, Australia, last season), she can definitely benefit from Walkenhorst’s experience.

On the other hand, the Olympic champion needs to play and, with Körtzinger, she’ll not only do that, but also experience a new role inside the court.

“This period can bring a lot for us, both individually and as a team,” the blocker remarked. “Our goals are pretty clear. Kira wants to get fit and have a new experience. For me, it’s about making the most of the experience and improving as a player and as a person.”

The only sad part of the Germans union is that we won’t get to see them live in the Beach Major Series. Körtzinger’s and Walkenhorst’s partnership was set with the exclusive goal of competing in the German Tour, which kicks off on June 8, in Münster.

“Our plans are to play in the German Tour only,” Körtzinger said. “Of course the idea of playing with Kira in the Beach Major Series is pretty nice, but it’s not in our plans for this season. I just started playing internationally and I obviously want to play in the Beach Major Series one day, but not this season.”

Don't worry, Leonie! We’ll be waiting for you!

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