Russia claim women's gold at Rio 2016
Russia have won the women's handball tournament at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, beating first-time finalists France 22:19 on Saturday.
Bronze went to 2008 and 2012 champions Norway who beat the Netherlands 36:26 in game that was a repetition of the World Championship 2015 Final which had also been won by Norway.
Russia's win was the first for them since the women's handball tournament was introduced to the Olympic programme in 1976. They had reached the final in 2008 but lost to Norway 34:27. The Soviet Union had won the Olympic women's handball tournament in 1976 and 1980.
The gold medal furthermore ended a seven-year long drought for Russia in women's handball and turned them into one of the red hot favourites for the Women's EHF EURO 2016 in Sweden in December.
Russia were dominating women's handball at the beginning of the 21st century, winning World Championship gold in 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2009 but failed to reach the podium at any major event since that last gold.
Norway's eight-year long Olympic reign had come to an end in the semi-final when they lost 38:37 against Russia on Thursday. The bronze medal marked their sixth Olympic women's handball medal overall.
Russia dominated the final at Rio 2016. A low scoring first half ended 10:7 in favour of the team of head coach Evgeny Trefilov.
France then levelled at 14:14 midway through the second period but conceded three unanswered goals straight after - a blow they did not recover from and Russia's win was never threatened again until the end.
In the bronze medal game Norway played with all the frustration that had amassed following the last-minute defeat to Russia.
They literally steamrolled their Dutch opponents and already led 14:5 after 18 minutes of play. The half-time result of 19:13 for Norway looked only a tiny bit more pleasing for the Netherlands, but the best they got in the second half was within five goals, so Norway eventually cruised to bronze.
The next major women's handball event is the EHF EURO 2016 in Sweden, taking place from 4 to 18 December.
The end of the women's handball tournament also saw the competition's All-stars being named.
Gold medallists Russia can pride themselves of having MVP Anna Vyakhireva, left wing Polina Kuznetzova and centre back Daria Dmitrieva in their ranks.
Norway's goalkeeper Kari Aalvik Grimsbo and line player Heidi Loke also made the cut. Furthermore, Nora Mork became the top scorer with 62 goals.
France's Allison Pineau became best left back and Alexandra Lacrabere was named best right back.
Sweden's Nathalie Hagman is the All-star right wing.
TEXT: EHF / ts