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2019-01-07 11:00:00 CEST

It’s over for Laura and Kira

Injuries finally take their toll on Kira Walkenhorst as Olympic champ retires

It’s the news every beach volleyball fan did not want to hear at the start of 2019: Kira Walkenhorst has had to retire from the sport at the age of just 28.

It means the glorious golden partnership with defender Laura Ludwig is over after six magical years that saw the duo sweep every major honor in beach volleyball.

Among the highlights were the 2016 Olympic gold in Rio, the 2017 World Championship title in Vienna plus a sensational 2017 season that saw them also scoop national, European and World Tour Finals golds.

Walkenhorst departs the sand with a glittering list of honors but one which sadly has been blighted by injuries. In 2018 she attempted a comeback, playing on the German national tour as a defender with Leonie Körtzinger, and the blocker’s final World Tour appearance came in her native Hamburg when she and Ludwig won their second World Tour Finals gold in August 2017.

“This decision was by far the toughest of my career,” said Walkenhorst in a statement. “I was looking forward to reuniting with Laura all year long, then having to cancel her just before the start of the Olympic qualifying session hit me hard. However at home I have had the the best support you could wish for, Maria and our three little ones have given me an incredible amount of support.

“I would like nothing better than to continue with Laura and my great team where we left off in 2017.

“Perhaps I have pushed the warning signals of my body in the last few years too much into the background, at least my body allows me no more competitive sports."

Laura, however, who is herself on the comeback trail having given birth last year, will return for the 2019 season with Maggie Kozuch. Read more about that, here.

Thank you for the memories, Kira - you'll be missed!

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