“The Medal is a Beautiful Memory”

Uwe Gensheimer (37) played handball at the highest level for 20 years. The Mannheim native’s list of successes is correspondingly long: championship titles in the German and French leagues, DHB and EHF Cup trophies and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The four-time Handball Player of the Year will end his active career in the summer, but Gensheimer will remain involved in handball. From next season, Gensheimer will take up the position of Sporting Director at the Rhein-Neckar-Löwen.

In this interview, Gensheimer talks about his experiences at the Olympics, the European Men’s Handball Championship in Germany and the upcoming games in Paris.

Bronze medalist Uwe Gensheimer of Germany celebrates during the medal ceremony after winning the Men's Bronze Medal Match
Uwe Gensheimer after winning the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
© picture alliance / dpa | Lukas Schulze

Hello Uwe, how satisfied are you with the home European Championships from a sporting point of view?

From a sporting point of view, you can’t complain. If you had said before the tournament that we would reach the semi-finals, I think everyone would have signed that. That was the big goal and we achieved it. Nevertheless, it has to be said that the teams that finished ahead of us are still a long way off, even though we managed to keep up really well for a half against Denmark in the semi-final. We can still improve in terms of being more confident overall and further developing our tempo play.

And from the fans’ and officials’ point of view? Do the last few weeks have the potential to trigger a handball boom in Germany?

We have once again achieved great TV ratings and seen that handball was on everyone’s lips in January. I hope that this can be transferred to the Bundesliga, where the halls are full and more kids come along.

In 2016, you won bronze with the national team at the Olympic Games in Rio? What memories do you have of the tournament? What does this medal mean to you?

First of all, the medal itself is a great memory. It was my first Games and I was really impressed by the dimensions. The gathering of so many athletes from so many different sports, the support within my own nation across all disciplines. Experiencing that was extremely special. The cohesion within our team was also fantastic, if only because of the accommodation in the Olympic Village. That was something else and certainly contributed to our success.

You played for Paris Saint-Germain for two seasons. During this time, the city won the bid to host the 2024 Games. How did you perceive that at the time? What was the reaction in Paris?

The jubilation was immense. The French received it with a lot of enthusiasm and motivation, and immediately set a lot of things in motion in terms of infrastructure and so on. Traffic was immediately a big topic. I’m extremely excited and really looking forward to it. It will definitely be something very special in a city as beautiful as Paris.

The DOSB is currently working on a new Olympic bid. What is your opinion on a “home” Olympic Games in Germany? What would they have to look like to appeal to you?

That would of course be a huge highlight. We have the necessary infrastructure here to be able to pull something like that off, as well as the experience. We can be proud that all the sporting events we have hosted so far have been perfectly organized. This was also the case with the European Handball Championships, which received high praise from all sides. I am sure that this would also be the case with the Olympic Games, perhaps even across an entire region. I wouldn’t put it past us.