The week here in Heidelberg has come to a stunning close and I for one, can’t truly believe it’s already over.
It seems like eons ago that we watched the teams march into the opening ceremony, all of us making predictions on how this week would finish. In the end, the USA were triumphant across all divisions as they were expected to be, and we will have to wait another two years to see if someone can dethrone them once again at the u24 level.
While the final results were as expected, there were moments in each game that captivated me.
The Americans came out with so much fire and intensity in this game. They had mad key defensive adjustments since their power pool game with Japan and they executed them perfectly. My favourite moment of the game came straight out of halftime. After going down 8-3, Japan had to start of defense out of half and answered immediately with a break on the American team. There was so much energy in their celebration and suddenly it seemed like there was some momentum with them as well as they immediately followed it with another break to close the game. Japan showed tremendous resilience in the second half to keep the game a bit closer and forced the USA to work hard for every disc. I have so much respect for both of these teams and the incredible athletes on the field. You could see how badly they both wanted it, and in the end the USA put everything on the line to earn the gold medal.
For this final we also had a badass all-female media team running the show and it was so awesome to be a part of it. I got to do my first real sideline interview and I hope it’s the first of many more!
This game was back and forth throughout the first half. There was so much Canada hype from the crowd and the team delivered with highlight reel worthy plays all over the field. It is always a great feeling to watch your country compete in a world championship final and I felt so much pride watching them go for it. Unfortunately, the USA was able to work through some of their early mistakes and stormed through to win the gold 15-12.
I was so impressed with all the performances but the player that stuck out the most for me was Canada’s Bryan Kuo who had the most exciting moment of the whole game. Off a deep shot to the endzone, the USA was able to make a play and knock the disc away from Kuo. But they didn’t knock it far enough as he was able to turn on a dime to layout for the amazing score. Even though Canada came away with the silver, it was an amazing game and the crowd absolutely loved every minute of it.
The final game of the day brought the most excitement for me as I got to join the legendary Tom Styles in the booth to call the match. This game was back and forth, and was so hard to call who was going to come away with the victory. The USA went up by two, before Japan brought it back to take half. Just before halftime there was a ridiculous 12-minute-long point that saw six turnovers from each team. Despite all the turns, the excitement on the pitch was electric. The second half saw the two teams continue to go toe to toe until the Americans finally pulled away to win 15-12 over Japan.
The best part about this game for me was the unreal display of what mixed ultimate can, should and look like. The play between both genders was seamless, roles were shared evenly and it set an example for mixed teams everywhere. I feel so lucky to have been able to call this final.
It has been an amazing week here at the 2019 World Under 24 Ultimate Championships here in Heidelberg, Germany and I want to wish a massive congratulations to all teams on a sensational tournament!
I have loved every second of this week, even the moments where I have been dead exhausted. It was a grind but one that I am so lucky to get to do. These weeks remind me not only how much I love my work, but how much I love this sport. Thank you to everyone for the support all week long, it has been a pleasure.
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