LONDON, August 12, 2012 - The
Norwegian women's handball team have defended their title at the London
2012 Olympic Games. But it took them a lot of energy to beat their
surprising final opponents Montenegro 26-23 (13-10). The Olympic
debutants were not disappointed with silver and celebrated
their unexpected medal by dancing on the court while the Norwegian
players ran their lap of honour waving the Norwegian flag in the
was Norway's second women's handball gold after winning in 2008, and
they join a long line of Scandinavian Olympic champions, with Denmark
winning the women's handball finals in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Spain had won their first ever Olympic medal in women’s handball, too,
by beating Korea 31-29 after two extra times in the bronze medal match.
Final: Norway – Montenegro 26-23 (13-10)
German IOC Member Claudia Bokel handed over the gold medals and IHF
President Dr. Hassan Moustafa the flower for the gold medallists, the
Norwegian joy was huge and the players were jumping on the podium.
Norway are Olympic champions again after a thrilling final.
the defeat, the Montenegrin team have made history, as their silver
medal is the first-ever Olympic medal for their NOC since they split
from Serbia-Montenegro in 2006. In their first participation at an
Olympic Games in 2008, their best result was a fourth in men's water
game was dominated by the top scorers Linn SULLAND (NOR) and Katarina
BULATOVIC (MNE), who scored ten goals each. Between the posts,
Montenegro goalkeeper Sonja BARJAKTAROVIC (MNE) gave a world-class
became overall top scorer of the women's London 2012
handball competition with 53 goals ahead of her teammate Bojana POPOVIC
(MNE), who scored 46 times and finished her international career with
first half was a private duel between SULLAND and BULATOVIC. This
encounter ended with a draw after 30 minutes with seven goals (including
four penalty goals each) for both shooters. Norway were in lead 13-10
at the break, though BARJAKTAROVIC had more saves than her counterpart
Katrine LUNDE-HARALDSEN (NOR).
a stong start from the Olympic debutants, the defending champions
turned the game around with a 4-0 series to make it 6-4 and further
extended this margin to three goals at the half-time buzzer.
several two-minute suspensions, including a red card against Marina
KNEZEVIC (MNE) after her third suspension in the 38th minute, Montenegro
were on the same level in the middle of the second half, as they
avoided the Norwegian counter-attacks.
BARJAKTAROVIC stood firm, her team equalised at 19-19 in the 47th
minute after being down by four goals. Needless to say it was
BULATOVIC with her tenth goal.
BULATOVIC's duelling partner SULLAND had still not enough, too. Two
minutes before the end she hit the net for the ninth time, scoring to
make it 24-22 and her tenth goal to make it 25-23 meant the final
decision and gold again for the defending champions.
Statements after the match:
Coach Thorir HERGEIRSSON (NOR): "I
am a very happy and proud man. My team have been magnificent in this
game we have shown we are still a great team. We knew it would be even
tougher to win a second successive Olympic gold medal than it was
winning it the first time in Beijing. Our momentum grew during the
competition. We had some good and bad performances early on but we
always believed in our hearts that we could get to the final again if we
performed the way we know we can. Montenegro were a very fine opponent.
They deserved their place in the final and gave us a real fight to the
Player and world handball player of the year Heidi LOKE (NOR): "It
is the best feeling ever. This was the one thing missing, the Olympic
Gold and it is very special that I have it. This past three weeks have
been a dream and the highlight of my handball career. As a team we
started not so well, but we pulled together worked harder for every
match. It was good to show that we were standing together as a team. We
now have two weeks off so I will go on vacation. My son is five years
old on Monday so I will go back home and celebrate with him."
Player Bojana POPOVIC (MNE): "I'm a little bit sad because we didn't win the gold, but this is big for us to win the silver medal. We achieved everything that can be achieved, we showed we are a great nation and that our Montenegrins can be proud."
Player Katarina BULATOVIC (MNE): "It
wasn't enough really. We are glad we took a medal but sad to finish the
tournament with a loss. It is our first time at the Olympics so we
should be happy. I am satisfied with silver. It is good for my career. I
used to watch when I was younger and now I am the one on television.
The reaction at home is going to be good. They will be really happy in
the streets. It is something we will never forget. The people will be
happy and proud. We will see when we get to Podgorica. Now we will watch
our men’s water polo in the bronze final against and hope to see