Top handball stories to watch in Rio
Can Norway make it three consecutive golds?
The Norwegian women’s handball team is looking for their third straight Olympic title at the 2016 Games. Since the 2012 Olympics, Norway has proved to still be in top form. They won the 2015 world championship and the 2014 European title, meaning they will enter the Games as the world, European and Olympic title-holders. If Norway can win a third straight Olympic gold in Rio they will tie the record for most consecutive gold medals in handball set by Denmark in 2004.
France eyes history with third straight gold medal
Like Norway, the French men’s handball squad hopes to win a third straight Olympic gold medal in Rio. The French enter the Games with what is considered to be one of the top teams assembled in the sport’s history and includes three former IHF World Player of the Year award recipients: Daniel Narcisse, Nikola Karabatic and Thierry Omeyer. If France wins gold in Rio, they will become the first men’s team to win three straight golds. In 2012, they became the first team to defend their Olympic title.
All-Star squad or Qatari national team?
The Qatari squad brings a bit of controversy to the Games. Over the past four years, Qatar has put together a roster consistent of many naturalized Europeans drawing criticism for assembling an All-Star team rather than a true national team. They won silver at last year’s world championship, their first-ever medal at worlds, and have won the last two Asian championships. If they Qataris can capture the gold medal in Rio, it will be sure to draw criticism from competing nations and possibly bring about changes to the way naturalization works in the sport.
Host nation on the rise
The Brazilian women’s handball team eyes their first Olympic medal in handball at the Rio Games. Brazil finished sixth in London, but won the world title the following year. They also won the 2015 Pan American Championship. Brazil sports a roster with two former IHF World Player of the Year award-winners in Alexandra do Nascimento and Eduarda Amorim, both of whom have won the award within the past four years. Nascimento was the first Brazilian to ever receive the honor.
Forward-facing arena design
The Future Arena is one of the most innovative structures the Olympics have ever seen. The building, which was completed in November, will have a last legacy after the conclusion of the Games. It will be dismantled and parts of the arena will be used to construct four different schools around Rio de Janeiro.