Every four years, handball comes in and it’s great and you can be super obsessed with it for two weeks, and then, at least in America … it kind of goes away, because we’re not good and don’t get not even a team at the Olympics.
The last time we saw men’s handball, Denmark’s gold medalist Mikkel Hansen was named Olympic Games MVP. Since then, Hansen has added a third IIHF World Player of the Year award and MVP honors at the last two World Championships (they take place every two years), both won by Denmark.
France, which has failed to win medals at this year’s world championships for the first time since 2013, will try to bounce back from that disappointment by resuming a fourth straight game for gold at the Olympics.
On the women’s side, France was also a silver medalist at the last Olympics, losing to Russia in the final. This year’s world championships are only held in December, so the Netherlands are the reigning world champions, the team that finished fourth in the last Olympics with a bronze medal loss to the Norway.
It was the Norway-Russia semi-final that was the match for the 2016 Games, with the Russians stunning the reigning two-time Olympic champions in overtime. Norway and Russia are favorites for gold in Tokyo, as Norway return most of their core for redemption, plus Henny Reistad, 22, who was Champions League Final 4 MVP EHF, leading Vipers Kristiansand to the title. alongside the top scorer of the last Olympic Games, Nora Mørk.