News Details

Date: 7/28/2012

LONDON, 29 July - Defending champions Norway lost their opening match against France, while medal contenders Russia struggled hard to beat Angola as the women's teams got the London 2012 Olympic Games handball competition under way on Saturday.

In other matches, Denmark won the Scandinavian duel against Sweden, while Great Britain lost their first ever match at the Olympic Games to fellow debutants Montenegro.

Preliminary Group A

Russia 30-27 Angola

The Russian women edged the opening match in the Copper Box 30-27 (16-11) against Angola. The African champions fought bravely and were close to a sensational upset when they were tied at 25-25 a few minutes before the end. But the greater experience of the Russians and the saves of goalkeeper Maria SIDOROVA (RUS) meant the favourites avoided an opening match failure.

Croatia 23-24 Brazil

A thrilling match ended with the expected Brazilian victory. The South Americans won 24-23 (9-10) and took a step closer to the semifinals, while Croatia can count themselves unlucky not to have earned at least a point in their first match at the Olympic Games. Goalkeeper Chana MASSON (BRA) and top scorer with six goals Alexandra NASCIMENTO (BRA) were the keys to Brazilian success. In an exciting finale, NASCIMENTO scored her fifth goal to make it 24-22 and MASSON saved a 14th shot from her opponents to seal Brazil's victory.

Montenegro 31-19 Great Britain

As expected, Great Britain were no match for the experienced Balkans team in a contest between two Olympic debutants. The one-sided scoreline puts Montenegro top of Group A.

Great Britain coped well with their opponents in the early stages but were eventually overpowered and outclassed. Despite the defeat, the British players got a standing ovation at the end.

Top scorers in the match were Marie GERBRON (GBR) with six goals and Katarina BULATOVIC (MNE) with five goals.

Preliminary Group B

Spain 27-31 Republic of Korea

The Koreans showed their medal credentials with a 31-27 (16-12) victory over Spain in Group B. Despite the apparent closeness of the score, the Asian champions comfortably outclassed the world championship bronze medallists. The top scorers were RYU Eun Hee (KOR) with nine goals and Carmen MARTIN (ESP) with seven goals.

The only bad news for Korea was a knee injury to KIM On A (KOR) 80 seconds before the end. After colliding with a Spanish defender, she was carried from the court on a stretcher for further assessment.

Denmark 21-18 Sweden

Queen Margrethe II and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark attended the opening victory for the three-time Olympic champions in this crucial duel for a spot in the quarterfinals. It was a close, defensive game between two equally matched teams. In the end, the six goals of Rikke SKOV (DEN) and the saves of two-time Olympic champion Karin MORTENSEN (DEN) were the difference.

The Scandinavian rivals, usually known for their full-speed, counter-attacking handball, were locked in a constant defensive battle that swung in the Danes' favour when they equalised at 13-13, leaving Sweden to rue their missed chances.

Norway 23-24 France

Reigning Olympic champions Norway were defeated as France took revenge for losing the 2011 world championship final in a thrilling match. 

France started brilliantly but, after the Norwegians reduced the gap to one goal, the French were indebted to goalkeeper Amandine LEYNAUD (FRA), who pulled off several crucial saves.

In the last second of the match, a final Norwegian shot was blocked by French defenders to make it a disappointing finale for Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon, who attended the match.