The rejoicing was great. When the last free throw of the game got stuck in the SC Magdeburg wall and the game was over, the players of the new Champions League winner in handball hugged each other. A triumph that was overshadowed by a tragic death.

Bennet Wiegert, the Magdeburg coach, would have accepted a game abandonment in the final against Industria Kielce because of the fatal medical emergency. During the 13-minute break in the game, he went to his fellow coach Talant Dujshebaev and offered him: “Let’s end the game. We take the result and you are Champions League winners because there are more important things in life,” Wiegert reported. The coach of the Poles rejected this offer.

A Polish journalist suddenly collapsed in the stands 12:20 minutes before the end of regulation time and, according to the tournament organizers, later died in hospital. No information was initially given about the exact cause of death.

“One saw again how close happiness and sadness are to each other. I’m really sorry, that just sucks,” Wiegert said of the tragic incident. At the time of the interruption, Magdeburg was 20:22 behind, but after the continuation they won the final with 30:29 after extra time and won the premier class trophy for the second time after 2002.

“It will take weeks or even months to realize everything that happened in Cologne this weekend. I will never forget that in my life, I know that. I can’t praise the team’s character highly enough,” said Wiegert on Sunday evening before leaving with the winner’s trophy and luggage.