French handball shines in Tokyo, and French team sports too. Like the men’s team, the French handball players qualified for the final of the Olympic tournament on Friday August 6, after their victory against the Swedes (29-27). They will try to win gold for the first time in their history, five years after having conquered silver.
Badly in the group stage, the players of Olivier Krumbholz had revolted against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals (32-22). A rise in strength of the Habs confirmed in the last four against the Scandinavians whom they had not managed to get rid of in the group stage at the end of July (28-28).
Vice-champions in 2016, the players of Olivier Krumbholz will have the opportunity to win their first Olympic title on Sunday August 8 against the Russians or the Norwegians.
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The French have, this time, managed to get the best of the Scandinavians. The meeting had started badly enough for the Blue, who suffered in particular from four suspensions of two minutes.
Led during the first quarter of an hour, the teammates of Allison Pineau however recovered five minutes before the break. Better in place in defense and more applied in the offensive phases, the Blue took the advantage ten minutes from the end, returning to the locker room with a goal ahead (15-14).
As in the group game, the Olympic vice-champions came up against the Swedish defensive block and a solid Johanna Bundsen in the cage. Aggressive and powerful on shots, the Swedes got back into the game for a while. But it was without counting on the decisive parades of Cleopatra Darleux (seven saves, 35% efficiency), already impressive against Brazil.
Disciplined, the Blue ended up finding the Scandinavian flaw to widen the gap five minutes from the end (27-24). Despite a poor performance on the 7-meter jets (0/4), the players of Olivier Krumbholz were able to count on great Pauletta Foppa and Grâce Zaadi, top scorer in this semi-final with seven goals. In the last minutes of the meeting, the French turned the clock to finally win 29-27.
The Blue will therefore play a second consecutive Olympic final, five years after the one lost to Russia. After silver in Rio, this time they will try to win gold and the first Olympic title in women’s handball at the same time.
For this, the French will have to overcome the winner of the semi-final between the Russians, reigning Olympic champions, and the Norwegians, reigning world champions, Sunday August 8 (8 am).