“We only have a chance, if we give it all we have“

Austria's left wing Conny Wilczynski talks about his team’s preparations ahead of the 2014 EHF European Championship in Denmark

"The European Championship is still more than 90 days away. That might sound like a lot but as I have just returned from our training camp with the national team at the beginning of October I can tell you that all of my teammates and – of course – me as well have set sight on the final tournament. 

The training camp was like the big throw-off for our preparations. In the weeks and months to come we will play twice against Iceland at the beginning of November and then against Germany, Russia and once more Iceland at a four-nation tournament in Germany at the beginning of January. I think the stronger our opponents are in the lead-up to the EURO, the better.

These are teams that we have to stand our ground against. They show how high the bar will be in Denmark. But we have proven in the qualification for the EURO that we can beat the big boys.

Nevertheless, and while we are, of course, dreaming about reaching the main round, we only have a chance, if we give it all we have. We have to play match by match, first against Czech Republic, then against Denmark, then against FYR Macedonia.

For me it’s the third time that I’m preparing for a big tournament. And I have to say that my priorities have slightly changed since I returned home to Austria. I won’t be playing handball on this level for much longer, therefore the tournament in Denmark is a fantastic highlight on the eve of my career, but I have also started focusing on my life after handball.

Playing for Westwien at the moment and being the club’s manager at the same time was the step I made and I really want to bring something to Austrian handball in the future.

In the national team I’m one of the more experienced players and that’s exactly the role I see myself in, trying to help our young talents with the experience I was able to gain in the past.

We have some great talents in our team. Players like Raul Santos or the Hermann brothers, Alexander and Maximilian. I think the team has a very successful future in front of it.

The positive excitement will continue to grow among us players in the next few weeks, but we are all professional athletes playing handball. Before we fly to Denmark, there will be plenty of other big matches along the way. So the true nervousness will only come at a later stage – I will tell you all about it in my next blog post."

Conny Wilczynski (31) celebrated his debut in the Austrian national team on 25 March 2002 in a match against Romania. Since then he has been taking to the court 126 times, scoring 555 goals on the way. With Austria he participated at the EHF EURO 2010 and the World Championship 2011. On the club level he won the Austrian national championship three times (2004, 2005, 2006) with A1 Bregenz.

At the beginning of the 2006/07 season he transferred to Füchse Berlin in Germany. In 2008 he became the German Bundesliga’s top scorer with 237 goals. In 2011 he returned to Austria and to SG INSIGNIS Handball Westwien, the club at which he started his career. He is not only a player but also the club’s current manager.

written by Conny Wilczynski, Austrian national team