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Date: 7/13/2014

100 matches, four venues, 24 teams - and finally a major sensation: No European powerhouses, but the Asian champions Korea took the gold medal at the Women’s Junior World Championship in Croatia after a sensational 34:27 (16:10) win over record Junior World Champion Russia, who lost their second straight final in this age category after 2010 in Korea against Norway.

After two silver medals in 1985, 1989 and 1991, Korea were on the first time on top of the podium in this age - and became first ever non-European Women’s Junior Champions after European teams had won all previous tournaments since 1977.

Miguel Roca Mas, First IHF Vice President, handed over the trophy and gold medals to the Koreans, who dominated the final and the whole tournament except their only defeat in the preliminary round against the Czech Republic.

In the final again their incredible 3:3 defence was the key for success. Additionally the nine goals of World Championship top scorer Hyojin Lee (in total 64 goals), who also was awarded as Most Valuable Player of the tournament, made the difference to the Russians. The silver medalists of the 2012 Youth World Championship lost their final because of a weak period in the first half, when Korea forged ahead to 16:8. Despite a great fight after the break, and reducing the gap intermediately to only three goals, they could not turn the final around - and were awarded with silver medals by IHF Executive Committee Member Frantisek Taborsky.

“I think we have earned a huge respect for Korean handball and we deserve to win this gold medal. I am so proud of those players, whole Korea is proud of them,” said coach Kyechung Lee after the closing ceremony.

Before, in a thriller Denmark had snatched away the bronze medal from the Germans, who had been ahead until the final stages, but then missed too many clear chances to enter the podium. “It was a terrible match in terms of technical mistakes, but a brilliant match in terms of thrill. When you have a medal around your neck, it does not count, how you earned it,” said Danish coach Heine Eriksen, who’s team had caught up a 11:15 deficit to a decisive 20:17 lead. Leon Kalin, Chairman of the IHF Commission for Organizing and Competitions, handed over the bronze medals to the Danes, who won their first silver ware in this age category after the 2008 silver medal after losing the final against Germany.

Both semi-finals had been stunning and thrilling. Denmark and Russia first showed a fight on highest level. After a 17:13 halftime-lead Russia were shaken by the 2012 Youth World Champions when the score was 20:20, but finally did not fall, but decided the game at 27:22 mainly thanks to nine goals of All Star Team player Daria Dmitrieva.

Korea well-deserved but tight made it to their first Women’s Junior (U20) World Championship since 1991 due to their outstanding 3:3 defence, which caused enormous problems to surprise semi-finalists Germany. But again the duel was close until the score of 24:22 for the Asian champions, who then forged ahead decisively. Like in all matches before Hyojin Lee was the key to success for the Koreans, scoring eleven goals.

Denmark (36:26 against France), Russia (43:33 against Netherlands) and Korea (36:27 against Romania) had won their quarter-finals in style, while the Germans turned around the most thrilling match of this stage against Hungary in the dying minute from 18:19 to 20:19 thanks to a last second goal.

And Germany had already been the biggest surprise of the eighth-finals, eliminating medal contender Norway. Also the dream of championship host Croatia (finally ranked tenth) ended in this stage after a highly close 21:22 against the Dutch side. By beating Serbia in the first knock-out stage, Korea had been the only non-European participant to continue in the race for the medals. Their Asian neighbors from Japan became winner of the President’s Cup by beating Uruguay in a close final, Pan-American champions Brazil finished the tournament ranked 15. Best African team was continental champion on position 21.

The next Women’s Junior World Championship in 2016 will be hosted by Russia. Sandi Sola, President of the Croatian Handball Federation, handed over the official IHF flag to Vladimir Nelubin, President of the Russian Handball Federation, before the medalists were awarded in Koprivnica.


Result summary of the final weekend:

Semi-finals: Denmark - Russia 29:31 (13:17), Korea - Germany 28:24 (15:11)

Placement matches:

Placement match 15/16: Brazil - Portugal 33:28 (19:18)

Placement match 13/14: Sweden - Slovenia 30:20 (17:6)

Placement match 11/12: Czech Republic - Serbia 33:32 (15:17)

Placement match 9/10: Croatia - Norway 26:34 (14:15)

Placement match 7/8: Netherlands - Hungary 18:36 (11:15)

Placement match 5/6: France - Romania 31:19 (15:8)

Bronze final: Denmark - Germany 21:20 (11:14)

FINAL: Russia - Korea 27:34 (10:16)


Final ranking of the 2014 Women’s Junior World Championship:

GOLD: Korea

SILVER: Russia

BRONZE: Denmark

4. Germany

5. France

6. Romania

7. Hungary

8. Netherlands

9. Norway

10. Croatia

11. Czech Republic

12. Serbia

13. Sweden

14. Slovenia

15. Brazil

16. Portugal

17. Japan

18. Uruguay

19. China

20. Argentina

21. Angola

22. Tunisia

23. Kazakhstan

24. DR Congo


The All Star Team of the 2014 Women’s Junior World Championship:

Goalkeeper: Dinah Eckerle (GER)

Left wing: Julie Kjaer Larsen (DEN)

Pivot: Seonpil Won (KOR)

Right wing: Anna Vyakhireva (RUS)

Left back: Line Haugsted (DEN)

Centre back: Daria Dmitrieva (RUS)

Right back: Luca Szekerczes (HUN)

Top scorer: Hyojin Lee (KOR) - 64 goals

Most Valuable Player: Hyojin Lee (KOR)