Why Julius Thole's retirement surprised the beach volleyball world
In a surprising decision, Julius Thole announced that he’s retiring from beach volleyball. At just 24 years of age, he had a bright future in the sport. Thole is set to pursue law studies while his now-former partner, Clemens Wickler will team up with Nils Ehlers.
In his first season in international beach volleyball, Thole was a prodigy at the youth level. He won the title at the CEV U18 European Championship back in 2014 and as the years progressed, Thole continued to be a star. However, his career started to pick up when he started to team up with Wickler in 2018.
Thole and Wickler became one of the best teams in the beach scene. They established themselves as one of the best squads in the FIVB World Rankings and they did not leave the top tier until the past few weeks because Thole now stepped away from the sport. It’s a shame that he has to leave early but he wants to follow his dreams outside of beach volleyball.
Beach volleyball players usually have long careers
As expected, some of the best beach volleyball players are veterans of the sport. Thole was still young but he is already an established veteran in the sport. He was set for a great and long career but he opted out because he wanted to go into other ventures.
Wickler himself was surprised with the news but he understands why his now-former partner decided to step away. He said, ‘Certainly the news was a shock at first, but it was always clear that we would only do it as long as we were involved at 100%. In competitive sports, you have to devote yourself completely, so it is a fair decision towards the coaching staff and me. If Julius only brings in 80% and struggles through, it won't do anyone any good’.
Thankfully for Wickler, he has a new partner in Ehlers who is a two-time World Tour silver medalist. Wickler is glad that when Thole left, he was given a partner who can play at a similar level.
Thole was supposed to have a prolific career
Thole is seen as one of the most promising players in beach volleyball but he has to abandon that now. He knows most people won’t understand his decision but he was intent to finish his studies without outside worries.
He said, ‘The decision was not an easy one for me and I've been thinking about it over the past few weeks. The main reason is that in the next three years I will no longer be able to practise the sport with full devotion’.
It’s not impossible that Thole can return sometime in the future. His retirement shocked the world but thankfully, Wickler still has a good partner in Ehlers.
Words: Cholo Martin