heinnews’s David Hein hit the road again and took in a handball match with two-time EHF Champions League champions THW Kiel from Germany. Afterwards, Hein caught up with Kiel’s superstar goalkeeper  and 2008 world handball player of the year Thierry Omeyer and talked about trying to get back to the Champions League final after losing in the 2011 quarterfinals as defending champs; how important the German league championship is for the team; playing in front of the 10,000 strong crowd at Sparkassen Arena in Kiel; the up-coming 2012 Olympics with the French national team as defending champions; retirement; and winning his fourth Champions League crown.

heinnews: After losing in the quarterfinals of last year’s Champions League following the title in 2010, how important is this season’s Champions League campaign – especially after not reaching the final for the first time since 2006?
Omeyer: For me as a player, I definitely want to get back to the Final Four. But first we have to reach the Round of 16 and then the knockout stage. But the whole team is really excited about the Champions League. It’s the best club competition in the world. And that’s why we want to be on hand at the Final Four in Cologne (on May 26-27).

heinnews: Where does the importance of the Champions League rank within the club – let’s say compared to the German Bundesliga and the German DHB Cup?
Omeyer: I think all of the competitions are very important. We want to play for the title in every competition. They are two totally different competitions. For example in the German league you have to consistent the entire season. In the Champions League if you have one or two poor results than you have a tough road to reach the Round of 16. For me the Champions League is the best competition. But it would be even better if I could win both.

heinnews: You have played in many different arenas around Europe and the rest of the world. Where do the Sparkasse Arena in Kiel and the Kiel fans rank?
Omeyer: This is the best place to play handball. The fans are incredible. There is a great atmosphere at every game. It’s a huge motivation to be able to play in this arena. I definitely look forward to every game here.

heinnews: Okay, we have talked about the Champions League and the German league. Time for the French national team. In just about seven months, the 2012 Olympics will begin in London. The 2008 Olympic champions France as two-time reigning world champions are the clear favorites. How much are you looking forward to the London Games?
Omeyer: Of course the Olympic Games are always in the back of my mind. That is the greatest thing an athlete can experience. But before the Olympics there are the club competitions and also the European Championship (from January 15-29, 2012 in Serbia). It’s in the back of my mind, but we are concentrating on the next game first.

heinnews: But sticking with the French national team, how important would the title be in London?
Omeyer: Yeah, well, we want to be Olympic champions again. That would be the greatest. Three years ago in Beijing was unbelievable. If we could repeat that it would be an incredible feeling. It would give the French league a push forward and of course I hope we can get that done.

heinnews: Would that be the crowning end to your international career with France?
Omeyer: I am not really thinking about when I would retire.  I am still having fun and I look forward to these games and the atmosphere in the arena. We are athletes and we live off our passion. That is the best what you can do.

heinnews: And retiring from the French national team?
Omeyer: I think we have a great mood within the team. It’s a good team with incredible players and we understand one another good. We’ll have to see. It’s tough to say as long as it’s fun.

heinnews: Last question, we are at the Champions League so it’s about the Champions League. What does Kiel have to do to win the Champions League?
Omeyer: Of course we have to remain injury-free.  We also have to improve our game. Once we start with the knockout games, then we have to bring our top game every time for 60 minutes – not having 10 or 15 minutes where things just don’t go well for us. So we still have potential to improve.

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