Things have been going really fast for Althea Reinhardt lately.
It is only one year ago that she played in Roskilde in the second Danish league. For the 2016/17 season she joined HC Odense in the Danish domestic top flight and now she is part of the Danish team at the EHF EURO 2016 in Sweden.
A week before the start of the tournament, the 20-year-old goalkeeper was nominated as a substitute for no.1 choice Sandra Toft because Toft's regular partner in the Danish goal, Rikke Poulsen, did not recover in time from a groin injury.
Over the first few days of the EHF EURO, Reinhardt has certainly drawn the attention of the international handball world. She has been sent on for six penalty shots and has saved four of them.
“I don't know if there is any real secret behind those saves. I have probably just been able to read the shooters correctly in those situations, and then I simply trust my intuition,” explains the 1.8-metre tall goalkeeper.
“Maybe I'm particularly cool in those situations, I don't know. I may have been so far, but there will probably also be situations when I'm not so cool,” says Reinhardt without seeming to be particularly impressed by having saved penalty shots from prominent players as Montenegro's Majda Mehmedovic and Hungary's Anita Görbicz.
“Maybe the fact that things have been going so fast lately has meant that I haven't really had the time to reflect and get nervous.”
Beyond her wildest dreams
Playing at international top level is not new to Reinhardt, although so far it has been at youth and junior tournaments. In 2015, she was part of the Danish team that won the Women's 19 EHF EURO, defeating Russia in the final.
Having now entered the big stage of senior international handball, she admits that this is beyond her wildest dreams.
“Just a few weeks ago, I would never have dreamt of going to play the EURO for Denmark. After a league match against Nykøbing Falster not long before the tournament, I was asked if I dreamt of the EURO, and I must admit that I hadn't given it a single thought at the time,” she says.
Toft feeling safe with Reinhardt as back-up
Reinhardt straight away earned the full trust and support of her teammates.
27-year-old Sandra Toft feels safe and secure, having Althea Reinhardt as her new back-up in the national team.
“Of course, it was peculiar at first, that Rikke (Poulsen) was not with us, but Althea is a really huge talent who can take her career far, and she is always willing to learn. I think we form a great duo,” says Toft.
And Althea Reinhardt is happy to learn from her.
“Sandra is really nice to work with, and I can learn a lot from her. I enjoy that very much. In Odense, I also form the goalkeeper duo with a highly experienced goalkeeper, former Brazilian international Chana de Souza. She is also very nice to work with and I also learn a lot from her.
“She contributes with a different kind of goalkeeper culture, and I find it really good to get such different inputs, as I get from Chana and Sandra,” says Althea Reinhardt.