Olympic champions vs record European title holders in bronze clash

14 Dec. 2019

Olympic champions vs record European title holders in bronze clash

The bronze medal match at the 24th IHF Women’s World Championship will see the two most successful teams in the history of the competition pitted against each other. 

No other team has won more medals at the Women’s World Championship than Norway, who count a total of 10, including three titles taken in 1999, 2011 and 2015. Russia are the record champions, having collected four trophies within five editions from 2001 to 2009. Aside from those gold medals, Russia have no others, while Norway have also taken four silver and three bronze. 

Norway vs Russia
17:30 local time, Park Dome Kumamoto

Russia and Norway have each reached the semi-finals at the World Championship and returned home empty-handed only once, in 1997 and 1995, respectively. It has been some time then, since these teams have experienced the disappointment of missing a medal after reaching the penultimate stage – and certainly the current squads have never had that happen. They will not want to start the tradition now. 

But for one team, that disappointment will come. Already it will be a challenge for the sides to recover from the semi-final loss to claim the last medal, however, given the experience in these teams as well as their coaches, Ambros Martin for Russia and Thorir Hergeirsson for Norway, there is no doubt they will be highly motivated to finish their solid campaigns on positive notes. 

For Russia, the semi-final loss was perhaps a more difficult moment, given it came down to one goal scored by the Netherlands in the last minute and they had the chance to level the game but missed the opportunity. For Norway, the result was coming for some time, as Spain had a commanding lead through the last quarter while the Scandinavian side fought to reduce the deficit. However, the team well used to reaching finals and powering through them have not experienced semi-final defeats often. 

Russia had enjoyed a perfect campaign up until the semi-finals, defeating all their preliminary round and main round opponents with clear margins. Norway had some challenging matches and a loss to the Netherlands, but nevertheless appeared very strong. Each team had to be considered the favourite ahead of the semi-final, but both were overthrown. 

Although they have one of the finest records of any women’s national team, Norway have not clinched a title for some years now. Their last came in 2016, when they topped the podium at the European championship after taking bronze at the Olympic Games some months earlier. In 2017, they were defeated by France in the World Championship final, and at the EHF EURO 2018, Norway missed the semi-final stage. 

Russia secured an history Olympic title in 2016, and though they did not manage to reach the final stages at the next European or World Championships, they made it back among the best four sides at the EHF EURO 2018. It was also France who snatched the title in the final against Russia at that event, leaving Russia with their second silver medal at the continental championship. 

Both teams are clearly among the top of the world and have been for some time, and the bronze medal match at Japan 2019 can be expected to be a memorable clash with significant motivation at each end of the court.