Brazil hold off European challenge
Four European sides claimed medals in the beach handball competition at the World Games in Colombia, but none were able to get the coveted gold.
There were three days of beach handball action at the Cañaveralejo Bullfighting Arena in Cali between 2-4 August.
Norway and recent European champions Hungary took part in the women’s competition and both made it through their Preliminary Round groups without much difficulty. Norway won all three matches to top Group A, while a defeat to Brazil left Hungary in second place in Group B, setting up an all-European showdown in the semi-finals.
In the semi-final, Boszana Fekete and Kitti Groz were the stars of the show for Hungary as they took both sets comfortably to book a place in the final against Brazil, while Norway would have to settle for bronze, which they won thanks to a 2:0 victory over Chinese Taipei.
The Hungarians lost the first set 14:8 against Brazil, but stepped up their game massively to win 11:10 in the second and force a shootout. Two penalty misses and a one-point goal cost Hungary dearly and it was Brazil who took home the gold in beach handball’s first appearance as an official World Games sport.
In the men’s competition, Europe were represented by Ukraine, Russia and European Beach Handball Championship winners Croatia.
Both sides suffered defeats to Qatar and were dragged into a three way battle with Venezuela for the second place in the semi-finals. All three teams had a win to their name, but it was Croatia who had the best head to head record and went through to face Brazil in the last four.
Russia clawed their way into the final after a nail-biting penalty shootout win over Qatar, where all three sets were decided by just one point.
Croatia took the first set against the more fancied Brazil, but the 2009 champions came back to win the second set and take the shootout 5:2, setting up a rematch against Russia in the final.
In a reverse of their Preliminary Round match, Croatia took the bronze medal after a shootout win over Qatar, leaving just one game to be decided in the Cañaveralejo Bullfighting Arena, which broke records thanks to over 10,000 spectators packing the arena for the final day.
In the final, Brazil took the first set with ease, never looking back after taking the lead in the second minute.
The second set was a much tighter affair, pushing Brazil all the way, before scoring four points in the final 30 seconds to make it 26:26 and force a sudden death goal situation. Brazil won the ball in the jump-off and scored into an empty goal to take the second set and the gold medal.
TEXT: EHF / cor