Croatia, Germany win beach handball world titles
The 2022 Beach Handball World Championships in Heraklion, Greece have produced two European winners: Croatia took the men’s title for a third time, while reigning European champions Germany earned their maiden women’s crown.
Croatia returned to the throne in the men's event Sunday following a 2:0 victory in the final against Denmark, the team that had won back-to-back European titles in 2019 and 2021.
The result meant that Croatia are still the only European team to have lifted the world championship trophy – actually, only two other nations have done so in the previous eight editions of the competition: Egypt won the inaugural championship in 2004, while record champions Brazil won five of the next seven tournaments.
Croatia vs Brazil had been the final of the last three World Championships, but the defending champions from South America saw their road to yet another final appearance blocked by Denmark in the semi-finals. The Scandinavians came back from losing the first set and took the second by a single point before winning the shoot-out 7:4 for a 2:1 victory.
Denmark could not repeat that result in the final, as Croatia won both sets with a small margin: 24:22, 21:18. Brazil did win bronze, after ending the remarkable run from hosts Greece in the third place match: 2:0 (18:15, 24:18).
Greece had never been to the semi-finals before, but even came within a set from reaching the final on home sand this time, winning the opening set of their semi-final but ultimately losing in a shoot-out to Croatia.
Croatia’s Lucian Bura was the top scorer with 164 points and was also named MVP of the tournament.
Germany proved in the women's event that the European title they won last year by dethroning Denmark was no fluke. The team went through the tournament without dropping a set, highlighted by a stunning 26:14, 16:4 victory over two-time world champions Brazil in their preliminary round opener.
The result set the tone for a flawless campaign by the Germans, culminating in a 2:0 victory over 2016 world champions Spain in the final – after two very close sets: 15:14, 22:20.
Germany won silver in the past – losing the 2006 final to Brazil – but had failed to make it back to the semi-finals since.
But this time there was no stopping them, and Germany also eased past Netherlands (18:10, 25:16) in what was the Dutch side’s maiden semi-final. Netherlands ended up winning bronze, edging hosts and 2018 world champions Greece 2:1 (23:22, 16:19, 9:8) in the third place match.
Spain’s Asuncion Batista was named MVP, while Christine Mansour scored a tournament leading 164 points for the 14th-ranked United States.
2022 Beach Handball World Championships in Heraklion, Greece
Gold – Croatia
Silver – Denmark
Bronze – Brazil
Fourth – Greece
Gold – Germany
Silver – Spain
Bronze – Netherlands
Fourth – Greece
photos courtesy of IHF / kolektiff