A complete set of medals for the European teams in Singapore.
Gold, Silver and Bronze at Youth Olympic Games
Gold, Silver and Bronze – Europe was clearly the strongest continental federation at the handball tournament of the first ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG), carried out in Singapore.
IOC President Jacques Rogge and the Danish crown prince Frederik were among the spectators of the final games in the International Convention Centre in the Asian capitol. They saw an all European girl’s final of two leading handball nations where Denmark took gold by beating Russia 28:26 (11:15). They were behind for a long time but managed to turn the game with great fighting spirit.
The third European competitor, France in the boy’s tournament, missed the final by losing by one goal against YOG champion Egypt. It was France’s only defeat in Singapore, they won the Bronze final against Brazil with a clear 40:27 (23:12).
France, Denmark and Russia won all their Preliminary Round matches clearly against opponents from all five continents – and Russia (against Kazakhstan) and Denmark (against Brazil) didn’t have any problems in their semi-finals, whereas the French defeat in the semi-final was probably the biggest surprise of the entire YOG tournament.
The event also included a culture and education programme for all participants in 26 sports. Every sport had its special Athlete Role Model – for handball it was the French legend Jackson Richardson who talked with the young athletes and attended the matches.
The girl’s final was a real thriller: When Russia led 25:20 with only ten minutes to go, everybody in the nearly sold-out venue expected nothing but Russian gold. But then Denmark showed why they’re called "Dynamite Girls". Led by Signe Pedersen (top scorer with seven goals) and Rikke Ebbesen (6 goals) they scored five consecutive goals to the equalizer (25:25).
Their 26:25 was the last Russian sign of life after missing several times before. In the last three minutes Pedersen, Woller and Ebbesen secured the Danish triumph at the first ever YOG.
The handball tournament at the YOG was a very compact one, with a total of twelve teams and six match days with an overall of 24 matches.
TEXT: Björn Pazen
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