LONDON, August 14, 2012 - France
remain the Olympic champions in the men’s handball competition. After a
thrilling and nail-biting final against Sweden, the Marseillaise
(national anthem) was played for them like in 2008 in Beijing after they
had received their gold medals in an Usain-Bolt-winning pose. Sweden
won their fourth Olympic silver medal after the highly close 22-21
defeat in the final on Sunday.
player for France was again Thierry Omeyer (FRA), who became best
goalkeeper with overall 94 saves in eight matches. Best French scorer in
the final was Michael Guigou (FRA) with five goals.
Before, Croatia had won their first ever bronze medal at Olympic Games by beating Hungary in the bronze medal match 33-26.
repeated. Like in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, France won the gold
medal at the men's handball competition and like in 2008 their
Scandinavian opponent were close, but lost against the defending and
now, 2012, champions. But at London 2012 the Frenchmen had to wait until
the final seconds of a nailbiting final, before they won their second
Olympic gold in history.
opponents Sweden fought bravely until the final buzzer, but earned
their fourth Olympic silver medal after being defeated on Sunday (12
August) in the Basketball Arena in a real thriller 22-21 (10-8) by
France like Iceland did in 2008 when they lost by the clearer margin of
five goals (28-23).
40 seconds before the final buzzer, Luc ABALO (FRA) decided the match,
scoring to put his side up 22-20. Swedish Niclas EKBERG (SWE) scored six
times and with it, became top scorer of the competition with 50 goals,
one goal ahead of Ivan CUPIC (CRO).
of the 14 French players celebrated their second straight Olympic gold
medal, as Swedish coaches Staffan OLSSON (SWE) and Ola Lindgren (SWE)
now have a fourth silver medal, their one as coaches to go with their
three they won as players.
the first time since 1992 both men's and women's handball champions
have defended their gold medals, as Norway crowned themselves on
Saturday (11 August) in their final against Montenegro. In 1992 it had
been CIS (forerunner of Soviet Union) and Korea. Additionally, the
Frenchmen are the first men's champions to defend their title since
the attendance of Swedish King Carl Gustav did not push the Swedish
team to their first-ever gold medal. The Scandinavians were on an equal
level for a lot of the match; in the first half (which finished 10-8 in
favour of France) and in the second half where France were pegged back
from going too far ahead thanks to the aggressive Swedish defence and
extraordinary goalkeeper Johan SJOSTRAND (SWE).
were perfectly tactically prepared against their final opponents,
supported by thousands of their supporters in the stands.
French goalkeeper Thierry OMEYER (FRA) kept the Swedes at bay, saving
11 shots in total - just like he did in the 2008 final against Iceland,
and with them took his competition total to 94 shots in eight matches.
This confirmed his title as the best goalkeeper at London 2012, further
confirmed by his well-deserved place in the London 2012 Olympic all-star
team, again like he did in 2008.
was the fifth major title for the French team since 2008. They have
been Olympic champions twice (2008, 2012), world champions twice (2009,
2011) and European champions (2010) once, but the London 2012 final was
the last big match for the current French squad as a huge number of
players will retire from the national team with a gold medal around
Statements after the match:
Coach Claude ONESTA (FRA): "BEIJING
2008 was about us winning the Olympic gold after years of trying and
people expecting us to add that gold medal to our collection. It was the
only one we had not won. So it was relief to get it four years ago.
This triumph here in LONDON is totally different. It was a situation
where we had an old team of players who wanted to show everyone who
doubted them that they were still able to be Olympic champions. That
they still had the ability and skills to win an Olympic gold. And, I am
delighted to say, they certainly did just that. They showed they were
not too old or finished."
"We had a poor European championships
where we could not find any rhythm or form. Therefore people started to
doubt us. But the whole team worked so hard in preparing for this
competition for months and months. "I always believed in my players. I
always believed that they still had one more excellent big competition
in them, and that they could rise to the occasion here. So I am so happy
for all of them, and the fans who came here to support us so noisily."
Player Jerome FERNANDEZ (FRA): "This
is the most beautiful day in my life. But now it is so hard to think
how we can ever repeat this. How will be follow this up and do it again
in four years time? I am so proud of my team because for eight weeks we
have worked really hard and prepared so well to give our best effort
here. We have won another title and it feels
Coach Ola LINDGREN (SWE) : “I
am disappointed. We fought all 60 minutes with strong defence and
active attack. It’s hard to lose the final with just one goal
difference. Yet we are proud about our team. Everybody expected France
to play in the final but hardly anybody thought of us as potential
Player Tobias KARLSSON (SWE): ”We
fought well as we have been doing in all games of the Olympic
competition. We were close to success but didn’t have enough power to
accomplish our winning task at the end.”