Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich are in a good place.
They’ve had some good results in recent months, but with higher-profile stars in mixed doubles at Tokyo 2020 – such as Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong, Wang Yi Lyu/Huang Dong Ping, and others – the Germans are comforted that the pressure will be off them.
“Against the top eight pairs we may have the feeling like we have nothing to lose and that can help a lot because they know they have something to lose against us,” says Herttrich.
The Germans finished 2020 with back-to-back victories – at the DANISA Denmark Open and the SaarLorLux Open; this year, they were in the quarterfinals of the YONEX Thailand Open and the semifinals of the European Championships. These performances came after a long period of lockdown, which actually helped them with uninterrupted spell of training.
“At first it was crazy. Mentally it was quite hard because everything was suspended and there was so much uncertainty. You never knew when the next one will be. As Mark said, we trained really good. Especially me, I tried to stay focused and use this period for training and just improve and get better,” says Herttrich.
“We knew that if the lockdown came, we knew we had to be ready because nobody knew when the qualification was going to start again. We tried to train as hard as we could and be ready if it starts again. That was why we were really good in October, even if it didn’t count for Olympic qualification, but we wanted to be fully ready when it started again. This also helped us with the last few weeks of qualification, even if it was only two tournaments for us.”
The memory that stands out for them during the qualification period is the DAIHATSU YONEX Japan Open 2019, where they beat fellow-Europeans Robin Tabeling/Selena Piek 26-24 27-29 21-16 in the second round.
“It was a crazy match and we had a lot of pressure and we were kind of rivals so who was going to the quarterfinals and get some good points,” says Lamsfuss. “I remembered it was a tough match. We didn’t perform to our best. In the end, we just fought through. I have this in my mind because we showed we can always beat everyone even though we were not at our best level and under a lot of pressure.”
Lamsfuss and Herttrich are in Group D, with second seeds Wang Yi Lyu/Huang Dong Ping, Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying, and Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Seut. It’s the most competitive group in mixed doubles, but with the pressure off their shoulders, Lamsfuss and Herttrich will be one of the pairs primed to seized their opportunities.
“My goal is to win a medal, maybe in Tokyo, maybe in Paris in three years,” says Lamsfuss. “I like to look at the long term. I will just go on court and show what German badminton is able to play or to do.”