• Eli Pinedo: A lesson to the teachers
  • Chronicle.Norway 22 - Spain 28

On the bus back to the hotel, after the brilliant performance of the semifinals, the players of the Spanish handball team celebrated their first ever euphoric qualification for the final of a world championship. Reggaeton thundered on the speakers and Las Guerreras left their voices. Not all. Almost in the front row, the oldest, the captain, Silvia Navarro, followed the letters with difficulty. "I don't handle this music much," he joked with the coaching staff.

The goalkeeper (Valencia, 1979) faces her 40 years the most important challenge of her life, the battle for world gold against Holland (12:30 hours, La 1). "We have no pressure, we want to dream about the most," explains the Rocasa Gran Canaria player, present in all the successes of the last decade: bronze in the 2011 World Cup, also bronze in the Rio Games and silver in the European 2014.

Raised in the lower categories of the Valencia Sea, since childhood she fought against the cliché that the goalkeepers should be the players with the highest staff. In his teens he reached 167 centimeters, and there he stayed. To overcome this difficulty, the strength and flexibility of his legs worked in the gym, when at age 17 he obtained his first record as a professional at the Ferrobús.

Own style

This constant effort throughout his career has favored his own style, a skill under sticks that led, among many other brilliant performances, the nine stops of the semifinal with Norway, despairing Stine Oftedal, one of the stars of the tournament.

The Valencian lived in the first person the golden era of Itxako before her traumatic disappearance in the summer of 2013. There she won the League, the Queen's Cup, the Super Cup and played a Champions League final. He was part of that historical picture, where that golden generation formed by Eli Pinedo, Marta Mangué, Macarena Aguilar was piled up ... with which he shared the past successes in the selection.

«This final is an award, a reward for the work we have done during the championship and in the previous weeks. That nobody doubts that we are going to leave the soul to hang the gold medal to our neck ”, explains Silvia, unquestionable owner of the goal in this World Cup. Spain has only lost one match (that 36-26 against Russia, which will play for third and fourth place with Norway) and, despite not being one of the main favorites, it has been planted in the final thanks to a choral game, in which Shandy Barbosa, top scorer of the national team has stood out.

"Late for fear to enter"

"We have fully deserved to be here," says coach Carlos Viver, about the final, which will not only crown the best team in the world, but will award a direct ticket to the Tokyo Games next summer. Since 2017 in office, his transition plan between the new generation and the previous one has paid off in this championship, after the painful setbacks of the past. «We have nothing to lose. It is late for fear to enter us so we will go with everything we have to get the gold, ”he explains.

«It is a team with very good pitchers and a great positional game; our defense will once again be key as it happened in the semifinals, ”says Navarro, the captain, who after more than 20 years in active labor, in this second youth, is one step away from achieving the most important achievement of her life: gold World Cup

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