German beach volleyball pair Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst have been named Germany’s top sports team of 2016 – the first time any volleyball team, indoor or beach, has won the award in its 70-year history. The award was voted on by more than 3,000 German sports journalists.
It was a dream year for the duo, when they became the first-ever European pair to win a women’s Olympic medal of any color in beach volleyball – and their’s happened to be gold. They beat the home pair, Brazil’s Agatha/Barbara, in the championship final 2-0. In total, they were undefeated in the Olympic tournament, giving up just a single set in pool play to run up a 14-1 set score. That means the team was undefeated in the knockout stages of the tournament.
In addition, they were the European Beach Champions in June in Switzerland, and after the Olympics also claimed the World Tour title in Toronto – completing a triple crown of sorts in major international volleyball. Add in 6 World Tour tournament titles and the pair each cleared over $200,000 in prize money in 2016, without accounting for sponsor money or Olympic medal awards.
Individually, Ludwig was named the Most Outstanding Player on the 2016 FIVB World Tour.
Ludwig accepted her share of the award while wearing a sling after undergoing shoulder surgery. The procedure was designed to repair her supraspinatus tendon, and she’s said that recovery is going well and that her hope is to return in time for the 2017 World Championships in Vienna in August.
Tennis player Angelique Kerber, the #1 ranked singles player in the world, won the individual women’s award; horizontal bar (gymnastics) Olympic champion Fabian Hambuchen won the men’s award.