Posted at gahandball.ie, original story by the Irish Independent
Photos by the Irish Independent
Written by Paul Fitzpatrick
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Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. World handball champion Paul Brady will fly to Minnesota next Tuesday gunning for a sixth Open Singles title at the triennial World Championships – but, he admits, it wasn’t part of the plan.
The Cavanman (38) had decided that his 2015 World Championships would be his last, but had opted to continue chasing the record of 11 wins at the US Nationals, one of the sport’s other ‘Majors’.
However, an unprecedented decision by the United States Handball Association to combine both tournaments into one will see Brady take his chances again on the biggest stage of all.
“My focus was completely on the US Nationals but now the Worlds is an extra motivation,” Brady told the Irish Independent at yesterday’s launch at the O’Neill’s factory in Dublin.
“I had retired my world title after 2015 but the way things materialised, they merged the two tournaments and that’s what has me here. I was quite happy to retire that world title but now I’ve been forced to defend it.
“I will defend it with my life and I will fight with my life to get my US Nationals title back. That’s all I’ve been thinking of for a long time now.”
The former Cavan footballer, who still lines out for home club Mullahoran, believes that this year’s renewal of the Worlds may be the toughest of the lot.
“This is the strongest field we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “You’re always banking on an easy first round or two but that won’t happen in this tournament.”
While he name-checks Americans such as Armando Ortiz and Sean Lenning, Brady’s toughest opposition is likely to come from the Irish players in the field, which is a turnaround from his first World Championships as a 17-year-old in 1997.
He added: “There was a belief or a perception that was out there at the time, that the Irish guys couldn’t compete with the Americans. I remember watching Irish players playing the top Americans in Canada in 1997 and the Irish players were almost beaten before they went into the court.
“Being a kid looking in on that, I was thinking that someone or some group has to change that at some point, and that’s what happened. It’s now a role reversal, a lot of the Americans enter and I don’t think they fully believe that they can beat the Irish.”