Estavana Polman is back with the Orange eight months after she tore off her cruciate ligament, although she will not play a match yet.

The 144-time international has four months to work towards the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she wants to be world class again.

"In a week's time I want to be on the match record for the first time at Esbjerg. My club doesn't know that yet, but I'm already saying that here", 28-year-old Polman says with a smile.

The Arnhemse has trained six times with her Danish team and this week she will continue training with the Orange squad, which is preparing for Friday and Sunday's exhibition games in Den Bosch against Slovenia.

"The tests show that my knee is good," says Polman.

"I can do everything again, but I am not 100 percent yet. I have to play matches, take blows with my knee and gain confidence. I lie when I say that the injury is no longer in my head."

In terms of muscle strength it is already good.

Maybe too good.

"I weighed 57 kilos and now I am 68. Of course that is not only muscle, it was just such a party. But to a large extent it is. I have been busy in the gym and I have to. To come back you first have to build up strength and then you can convert that. When I train and play matches, it goes off again. "

Estavana Polman in March 2020 in the shirt of her club Esbjerg.

Estavana Polman in March 2020 in the shirt of her club Esbjerg.

Photo: ANP

'I feel like a kid in a candy store'

At the next international match, in April, Polman wants to make her comeback in a match for the Orange squad.

Now she is already overjoyed that she can train with the other internationals.

"I feel like a kid in a candy store. It's so nice to be back with those girls."

For months she followed Orange from a distance.

After her surgery, she worked full-time with a physical therapist on her recovery.

"We started every day at 8:00 am and we were ready at 11:00 pm. Sleep and then again. But you won't hear me complain. Fortunately, as a top athlete, it was all possible in corona time."

In December, during the European Championship in Denmark, Polman had more to do.

She joined

Ziggo Sport

to analyze the matches of Orange.

"I liked that, but also difficult. Because if things don't go well, you have to be critical."

She couldn't do anything else.

Sixth place at the European Championship contrasted sharply with the 2019 world title, the silver medals of the 2015 World Cup and the European Championship 2016 and the bronze medals of the 2017 World Cup and the European Championship 2018.

"We spoiled the Netherlands with all those medals. Sixth at a European Championship is really not bad. If you compare our team on paper against other countries, the conclusion is not: we are going to take a medal. Other countries can open a look and sixteen more. "We are the best as a team. If we are good together, we can become world champions. We have proven that."

A cheering Estavana Polman (left) with the 2019 World Cup gold medal.

A cheering Estavana Polman (left) with the 2019 World Cup gold medal.

Photo: ANP

'We only had one good day in Rio'

Polman, who has been playing for the Orange since 2010, therefore thinks that great things can also happen in Tokyo.

Five years ago in Rio de Janeiro she made her debut with the handball players at the Games and fourth place was the end result.

"We have the experience of Rio and we don't have to make the same mistakes in Tokyo. I can tell you, we made some mistakes there. Actually we had one good day in Rio and that was in the quarter-final against Brazil. Now we have to more matches are top. "

She also wants to perform at top level individually again, after she was voted best player of the World Cup in 2019.

"I feel pressure. In four months I have to be at my best and I don't know how far away I am now."

The fact that she could not play for a long time earlier in her career - in 2017 due to the birth of daughter Jesslynn - helps Polman.

"At the time I went back to handball six weeks after giving birth and thought: wow, I'm ready. But three months later I thought: I wasn't ready at all. Now I'm really back. Fortunately, I still have a little while. Until Tokyo. And then I want to continue. I still want to experience the 2025 World Cup in my own country, even if you have to pick me up from the field with a walker. You are still a long way from getting rid of me. "

See also: These Dutch athletes are sure of the Tokyo Olympics