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