Feature | Beach Volleyball

Laura Ludwig: Never give up and luck will find you

The German beach volleyball Olympic champion defied the odds to return to the top of the sport after a break, but find out why the 34-year-old thinks the Tokyo 2020 delay is a 'gift'.

By Olympic Channel ·

Laura Ludwig can’t imagine life without beach volleyball.

Alongside teammate Kira Walkenhorst, the German pair won Olympic gold at Rio 2016, before sealing the FIVB World Championships title in 2017.

She decided to take the 2018 season off in order to give birth to her son Theo, but during that time out she discovered that Walkenhorst had succumbed to multiple injuries and decided to retire.

At 33-years-old, with the sport’s highest honours safely tucked away, a year out of the game and loss of her long-term teammate, nobody would have blamed the Berlin native for hanging up her beachwear.

German pair win Beach Volleyball gold

Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst defeat Agatha Bendnarczuk and Barbara Sei...

But the thought of retiring never even entered Ludwig’s head, and she enlisted the services of Margareta Kozuch in a bid to defend her titles.

Kozuch was primarily an indoor player, and needed time to adjust to playing on sand. In an unusually inconsistent start to the 2019 season for Ludwig, the German duo finished four times in 25th place, and five times in ninth.

But they continued to fight, and turned their season around to finish top of the World Tour Finals podium in Rome. Right afterwards she posted on social media: "Never give up and luck will find you."

A blessing in disguise

While the one year delay to the Tokyo Olympic Games would have undoubtedly come as a huge disappointment to her, Ludwig has chosen to look at the positives she can gain from another year playing with Kozuch.

"We were gifted time in a sense as it gives us more time to work on small details. This is tedious work and tiresome to a certain extent but focusing on details has also been very rewarding for us on the other hand," she told NDR.

"I recently rewatched the Rio 2016 final and it brought up some beautiful emotions that provided some hope and strength after the postponement announcement.

"Of course I even thought about quitting altogether for a brief moment but that went away very fast as beach volleyball and sport in general play a huge role in my life."

Family life

Ludwig is married to German women's beach volleyball team head coach Imornefe Bowes, and during the COVID-19 pandemic has been able to train at the German Olympic centre in Hamburg since mid April, thanks to a special dispensation.

While the delay provides opportunities to improve their team’s chance of winning, it has also meant readjusting Ludwig’s family plans off the court.

“We enjoy the time as a family. It is an adjustment but a positive one. We had different plans after the Games this summer. We wanted to give my son another sibling. That will have to wait now,” Ludwig told sport1.

The future

Given the success Ludwig had at relaunching her career, she unsurprisingly refuses to look at her life post beach volleyball just yet.

“I would never say never when it comes to retirement after Tokyo 2020,” she told sport1.

“I just want to make sure I catch the right moment to quit. I can’t imagine life without beach volleyball, and at the same time I feel I would like to give more time and space to something else. Thank god I have one more year to think about everything!”