Handball: the last six women’s Olympic tickets were won by European countries

As among men, 75% of those classified for Paris live in the old continent. Slovenia sealed the first passage in its history; Germany returns after 16 years; 3x3 basketball also decided places.

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A cry to the heavens: Germany won the classification one date earlier.
Credit. dhb_teams
A cry to the heavens: Germany won the classification one date earlier. Credit. dhb_teams

A new discipline completed its Olympic entry list. Handball, which had defined all the men’s national teams on March 17, closed its women’s rankings in the pre-Olympic triad of Neu-Ulm (Germany), Torrevieja (Spain) and Debrecen (Hungary) held between last Thursday and Sunday, with Germany, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Spain, Hungary and Sweden crediting the tickets.

Similar to that of London 2012, the Olympic composition is repeated between men and women: the six pre-Olympic odds and nine of the 12 total tickets were awarded to European nations. In addition, the three host teams managed to succeed.

In Neu-Ulm, Slovenia’s rise in the women’s handball field resulted in the first Olympic qualification in its history. Never before, had even reached the pre-Olympic stage, which entered for eighth place in the 2022 European Championship. Its mission was fulfilled through a 30-26 win in the last match -looking like the final- against Montenegro, bronze in that European championship and already focused on LA 2028.

The Slovenian feat emerges like a golden touch in the successful career of full-back Ana Gros, the national team’s top scorer and player with the most appearances. “When I started my career in the National Team, it was hard to imagine even reaching the Olympic pre-qualification,” she said.

In the same Bavarian city of nearly 60,000 inhabitants, Germany’s agony ended on Saturday: its two initial victories at home gave it the Olympic ticket after 16 years of absence. The third and biggest celebration, against the eliminated Paraguay 37-20, only served to decorate the return with a perfect score.

For “Las Guerreras” of Spain, before its people and marked by Marta López, the sole survivor of the only Olympic medal in the discipline, the bronze medal in London 2012, was also enough with the two initial commitments to embrace the fourth Olympic passport in a row. The only mole was painted on Sunday by the Netherlands, the undefeated leader of the tournament, with a score of 27 to 26 in the last minute. The Czech Republic and Argentina rounded out third and fourth places.

Spain is excited to repeat the feat of London 2012. 
Credits: rfebalonmano
Spain is excited to repeat the feat of London 2012. Credits: rfebalonmano

The combination of mixed results meant that, in Debrecen, the two classifications were decided on Sunday as all four teams arrived with chances. In the opening, Sweden’s favouritism resulted in the fifth consecutive Olympic participation thanks to an unappealable 52 to 8 - with partials of 26 to 6 and 26 to 2 - against the United Kingdom. Later, Hungary took advantage of the fervor of the stands to secure the last passport at stake through a 37-28 win against Japan.

The defending champion France, as host, Norway, through the world title, and Denmark (record number of Olympic awards, with three), Brazil, Angola and the Republic of Korea, through the continental tournaments, had their guaranteed Olympic odds. The draw will take place next Tuesday, April 16 in Paris. Norway and Hungary make up the first hype.

The Hungarian heat paid off: Hungary was the best team of the three pre-Olympic games. 
Credits: mkszkezilabda
The Hungarian heat paid off: Hungary was the best team of the three pre-Olympic games. Credits: mkszkezilabda

The two handball competitions in Paris 2024 will have the same “nomadic” dynamic as basketball, as the preliminary stages are played in one venue and then the finals in another: it will start at the Arena Paris Sud 6 (up to 7,800 spectators) and for the quarterfinals it will move to the Pierre Mauroy football stadium in Lille, with a capacity for 26,000 people.

The other collective sport that awarded Olympic places during the last weekend was basketball 3x3. The Latvian men’s trio and Azerbaijan’s women’s trio were crowned in Hong Kong and qualified for Paris 2024. The next qualifying competition will take place in Utsunomiya, Japan, between May 3 and 5.

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