Getting to know: double European champion Nina Betschart
Luxembourg, August 21, 2013. This past Sunday Switzerland’s Nina Betschart made history as she added gold from the inaugural U22 European Championship (formerly U23) to the U20 European title she had claimed only a couple of weeks before in Vilnius. She did so teaming up with Anouk Vergé-Depré after cruising to the first European crown alongside her usual partner, Nicole Eiholzer thereby emulating Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova who had won U20 and U23 gold back in 2008.
“That’s a very good feeling and I am overwhelmed with joy for I made the top of the podium twice in a row” says the 173 cm tall Nina who will turn 18 this coming October 14. Betschart is also a double U21 world champion (in 2011 and 2012) and last year had won bronze – together with Eiholzer – at the U18 European Championship in Brno to follow up on a silver medal from the 2011 edition.
In the last couple of weeks she did exactly what Evgenia Ukolova – nowadays one of the most accomplished players on the World Tour – had achieved in 2008, i.e. to win double European gold with two different partners. “In Vilnius I played with my ordinary partner Nicole Eiholzer with whom I have already developed the right chemistry. This tournament gave me the right boost of confidence and it did help me for the next stop in Varna. Anouk is technically speaking very strong and so we could adjust to one another quite quickly. We also get along very well, and so this eases up our understanding and interaction. We had a lot of fun and this helped us improve the quality of our play and performance” Beschart says. “We had played together last year too so we knew already before traveling to Varna that this combination could be a good one. Our coach helped us keep cool and was always at our side”.
Only a couple of weeks ago it was announced that Switzerland – and namely the city of Biel – will be hosting two Masters Tournaments in 2014 and 2015 before the European Championship Final stops there shortly before the Olympics in Rio. Starting from the outstanding results of the past weeks Betschart may be well seen as the rising star in the country that will play host to that flurry of major events in the coming years. “You never know what’s next and what is going to happen; of course I would like to progress and improve as much as possible but I am afraid that 2016 is a little too close for me to be able to play for European gold” Betschart admits. “However, a European Championship before the home crowd would surely turn into the experience of a lifetime”.
With the players who carried Switzerland’s hopes for the past decade – Martin Laciga, Sascha Heyer, Patrick Heuscher, Simone Kuhn to name only a few – having all retired from the sport after the London Olympics, the country hopes the next generation will be able to follow in their footsteps and achieve the same good results on the international stage. “It is very good to know that Switzerland has produced excellent Beach Volleyball players even though the sport is not that popular in our country. I do not feel any pressure from the responsibility to take up the challenge to follow in their footsteps; it rather motivates me to work hard so that one day I will also make it to the top”.
Some three weeks ago Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger crowned their dream by winning European gold before 8,000 home fans in Klagenfurt. What about Nina and the chances of seizing the day at Biel 2016? “This sounds too far and I would rather avoid any prediction” she admits revealing her humbleness.