Handball team beats RussiansAfter a heartbreaking 30-31 loss to Spain in their first game, the Korean handball team clinched a much-needed victory yesterday when it beat Russia, the defending gold medalist from the 2000 Sydney Games, with a 35-32 score.
The victory was largely due to tight defense on the part of the Koreans, who managed to break what had been a tit-for-tat game coming into the second half with three consecutive goals.
By halftime, the two teams had played to a 16-16 tie. Korea widened the gap to 28-24, and the Russians never took the lead again, with Han Kyung-tai managing to block some Russian shots. Yoon Kyung-shin, who’d had a subpar performance in the first game, scored seven goals against Russia and was the main force behind the victory.
Though Russia is the defending Olympic champion, the team managed only to place fifth in both the European Championship and World Championship last year.
Croatia, reigning world champion and 1996 gold medalist, is considered the team to beat. Spain, bronze medalist in the past two Olympics, is another strong contender, as are 2001 world champion France and this year’s European champion, Germany.
Korea is in Group A with Croatia, Spain, Russia, Iceland and Slovenia. The top four teams in each group will qualify for the quarterfinals. Korea is playing its next game tomorrow against powerhouse Croatia.
by Brian Lee