Lunde: “I have a pure passion for this sport”
Katrine Lunde is set to play her 55th EHF EURO match when Norway meet Hungary at the Women’s EHF EURO 2022. It makes the goalkeeper the outright record holder for most matches played at European Championships.
Norway are well-known for having star players, who write history for their country and for the sports. Katrine Lunde will be adding another piece of history on Tuesday.
With more than 335 international matches under her belt in her 20 years with the national team, winning five EHF EURO tournaments (in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2020), winning Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, two World Championships, seven All-star Team awards, and six EHF Champions League titles, the goalkeeper is the most decorated and experienced player in the Norwegian team.
The Women’s EHF EURO 2022 in Slovenia, North Macedonia and Montenegro is Lunde’s ninth, and the last match in the preliminary round against Hungary (Tuesday at 20:30 CET) will be her 55th in the competition.
Overtaking Siraba Dembélé Pavlovic, Lunde will become the outside record holder for most EHF EURO matches played. The Hungary match included, the 42-year-old goalkeeping legend will have been part of more than half of all matches Norway have ever played at the EHF EURO: 109.
Katrine Lunde and her twin sister Kristine have left their mark in handball. And while Kristine retired in 2018, Katrine is now chasing her sixth EHF EURO title.
ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: The Hungary game will make you the most capped player of all time in the EHF EURO. How do you feel about it?
Katrine Lunde: Oh, I was not paying attention to it. It is very good to have this many matches played at the EHF EURO. The EHF EURO is a very strong competition and in Norway, we have a strong tradition of good goalkeepers. That is why this makes me proud, to know I am a good goalkeeper. However, I didn't even think about it before you told me.
ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: You were part of the team at the EHF EURO in 2002 for the first time, though you didn’t actually play in that event. What are your memories of that EHF EURO?
Katrine Lunde: I don’t remember too much about the games as I was not playing. I was the third goalkeeper. I was at the tribune watching the games and I knew what my place was. I had a different role, I was there to learn, to train hard among top players and keep helping my teammates to be ready for the matches.
ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: You have been with the team for two decades. What is your secret for remaining at the top for so long?
Katrine Lunde: I don’t know what the secret is. I have a pure passion for this sport and I love to train, to watch all the details. I feel the positive energy when I am coming to the training with all these amazing girls that I have been playing with. I was happy that I have always had good and inspiring coaches in the national team. For a long time, we have had Mats Olsson, our goalkeeper coach, in the team. This means a lot to me. Olsson makes me focused and he makes me take work and training back to the club, so I can continue on the same level throughout the year. For me, communication is very important, and I have good communication in the club and national team. That is what keeps me focused all the time and all that contributes to my performance and durability.
The most important thing is to have fun and not to look at the big picture. Take small steps. That is how I found my passion also. When I was starting, I was not saying: 'I want to win this and that.' I just wanted to have fun on the court and enjoy every single day. The process towards the big goals should be fun.
ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: You have won the EHF EURO five times: in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and most recently in 2020. Is there one you remember the most?
Katrine Lunde: It is hard to say, really. Every title is special. Maybe I would choose the one from the EHF EURO 2004 in Hungary. It was the first EHF EURO where I have played and was helping my team on the court. That championship was very fun. I know Hungarian fans are amazing. It was a great atmosphere, and I always liked their passion for sport, for handball. It was great to be part of it, we played very well and won the gold.
ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: You have 16 medals from all three major handball tournaments, six times you were elected for the All-star Team, you also have great successes with clubs and won six EHF Champions League trophies. What is your message to young players looking up to you?
Katrine Lunde: The most important thing is to have fun and not to look at the big picture. Take small steps. That is how I found my passion also. When I was starting, I was not saying: 'I want to win this and that.' I just wanted to have fun on the court and enjoy every single day. The process toward the big goals should be fun. That is how you can give more of yourself into it.
ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: What are your expectations for this EHF EURO? If you manage to go all the way, you would become the first player ever, male or female, to win the trophy six times.
Katrine Lunde: I don’t think too much of it. Of course, it would be nice, but this championship is also very important for the Olympic Games in Paris. We will try to do everything we can in order to be successful. We know it is going to be hard as there are many good teams at this EHF EURO. We have two wins so far in group A and I hope we will win against Hungary, too. That would give us a small advantage in the main round as we would transfer those two points as well.
ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: You have been asked many times before, but will we see Katrine Lunde chasing another record at the next EHF EURO or World Championship? Do you even think about retirement?
Katrine Lunde: Of course, I am starting to get older, but my body is still working very good (laughs) so I am happy about it. I love to be here, with the girls and our coaches. This is giving me a lot of inspiration and energy to work in daily life. On the other side, of course, I would like to be together with my family, but I still don’t see myself stop with handball. Neither I can say I will want to continue for two, or three more years. So, we will see. You never know.
ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: Talking about your family, how much does their support mean to you? Is your sister Kristine still your go-to person for a talk?
Katrine Lunde: Family means a lot, they are the most important part of my life. Not only for support, but also to help me take care of my family and my daughter Atina. My husband Nikola (Trajkovic) is a football coach, so he is also abroad. I need a lot of help from my family when I am also away playing the EHF Champions League, training and national teams. Of course, I can always call my sister to discuss anything handball or non-handball related.
photos (c) Jure Erzen, Sasa, Sasa Pahic Szabo / kolektiff