Family ties are evident nearly everywhere you look at the Umcor U18 European Championship Women.
Marta Bibrzycka’s bigger sister is senior national team and EuroLeague Women All-Star Agnieszka. Karis Loyd is the daughter of Otis Loyd, former coach of the Danish men’s national team, while Serbia & Montenegro’s Sonja Petrovic’s father was a longtime FIBA referee.
But none can boast an athletic lineage quite as impressive as Sweden’s Eldebrink twins.
Father Kenth Eldebrink was a track and field athlete while his brother Anders played ice hockey.
Kenth participated in 2 European Championships, 1 World Championship and 1 Olympic Games. At the Los Angeles Games in 1984, he threw 83.73m, good enough for a bronze medal.
Anders was even more successful in his chosen sport and is still a household name in Sweden.
He is widely recognised as one of the all-time greats and perhaps the best defenseman ever to come out of Sweden. Anders also has an Olympic medal to his name from the 1988 Games in Calgary.
Basketball certainly wasn’t a sport that figured high on Kenth Eldebrink’s radar, at least that was until his wife was asked to coach a local team.
“My daughters started to play because my wife was a physical education teacher,” explained Kenth, who is part of a large contingent of Swedish parents and fans in Tenerife.
“Then the basketball club in our area asked her if she could become the coach of a new team.”
Six years later, Elin and Frida are a huge part of Sweden’s success at the U18 European Championship Women.
The two point guards are averaging a combined 27.5 points, 6.5 assists, 8.6 rebounds and 3.3 steals in leading Sweden to the semi-finals.
Although they are identical twins, Elin sports brown hair while Frida is blond. Style-wise, they are also slightly different.
“Elin is more of an attacking player and is more physical when she’s playing. I’m more of a shooter,” says Frida.
With such a successful history in the family, the twins tried their hands at other sports before opting for basketball.
“They have tried a little bit of track and field because that was my sport and I have tried with them some javelin throwing, some long jump, high jump and they were quite good, but they prefer basketball,” says Kenth.
“They love basketball and it’s fantastic to see it, especially as a parent.”
And as for the family name, it seems to bring more benefits than baggage.
|Frida Eldebrink |
“I think it is a disadvantage if they start to do track and field, but to be in totally different sport, I think that is an advantage,” says Kenth.
It is an opinion shared by the two girls.
“I think it’s good because they (Anders and Kenth) didn’t play basketball. If they had played basketball we would have been compared with them, so that’s good, because it’s very hard to be compared with your parents,” says Elin.
And then of course there is the fact that if either of the girls ever need some advice, father Kenth or Uncle Anders are always standing by.
“They always give us advice to how we can practice,” says Frida.
While it is a little early to talk of adding another Olympic medal to the Eldebrink family haul, the future looks good for this very talented generation of Swedish youngsters.
“The Swedish team is not allowed to play in the Olympics for the seniors. They have to start from the bottom so maybe this team can go all the way. Maybe they could go to the Olympics in 2012 or something like that,” says Kenth.
As for the girls, they are firmly focused on their U18 goals, but as Sweden have shown in their remarkable performance in Tenerife, anything is possible.