Thörnblom hails unbelievable feeling

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Hamburger Polo Club’s Leon Thörnblom led Austria to Indoor World Cup glory as they retained the title at the end of a thrilling finale against the Netherlands in Pretoria.

“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” said the elated Austrian captain, Leon Thörnblom. “You tend to say a lot but when you do it, it’s just a different feeling. I have no words, I can’t explain it… just unbelievable. I’m so happy.”

He was among several EHL FINAL8-destined players in his line-up with club mate Oliver Binder along with Harvestehuder THC’s Michael Körper, Moritz Frey and Fülöp Losonci.

They edged out the Dutch – for whom Pinoké’s Hidde Brink and Niek Merkus are in the line-up – in a shoot-out at the end of an epic tournament.

Michael Körper got the defending champions off to a great start in the men’s final, putting his side ahead in the ninth minute. 

Less than a minute later the Dutch struck back, Max Sweering slotting one in off a penalty stroke for the equaliser just before the first break. But it didn’t take long for the Austrians to regain their lead, Körper once again adding his name to the scoresheet with a magnificent, lifted effort. The Dutch once again came back at them though, to level matters before halftime.

The Netherlands then led twice in the second half, but the prolific Körper completed his hattrick to once again draw level at 4-4, sending the title decider to a shootout, which the Austrians edged 3-2 for a memorable victory.

On the women’s side, the Netherlands – featuring SCHC’s Anna de Geus and Alexandra Heerbaart – won gold with a 7-0 win over Austria.

Mabel Brands scored a hat-trick as the Dutch romped to a third world title to climb to top of the world rankings into the bargain.

“I’m so proud. We did a really good job, we prepared well and we executed it,” said Brands. As for scoring a hattrick in a World Cup final, she added: “It’s special, really special – I will never forget it.”

In a first for a Hockey World Cup, both the men’s and women’s finals featured one male and one female umpire in each with Sean Edwards, Rachel Williams (both England), Andres Ortiz (Spain) and Sophie Bockelmann (Germany) blowing the whistle.