Denmark jinx goes unbrokenIn a hard-fought gold medal match in the Helliniko Indoor Area yesterday, the South Korean women’s handball team lost to its old rival Denmark.
After 80 minutes of close play, including two overtimes of 10 minutes each, Korea lost in the shootout, 4-2. The match went into the shootout after the second overtime ended in a tie at 34 points.
It was Denmark’s third consecutive gold medal in women’s handball. Prior to Denmark’s streak, Korea had won the two previous golds, in Barcelona in 1992 and in Seoul in 1988. Korea lost to Denmark in the finals in Atlanta in 1996, and in the semifinals in Sydney in 2000.
A close game was expected; Korea and Denmark had played to a draw at 29 in the preliminaries. With 22 splendid blocks by the goalkeeper Oh Yong-ran, a total of 14 goals from Lee Sang-eun (9) and Jang So-hee (5) led the offense. But the defense was shaken hard by its failure to hold back Denmark’s main striker, Katrine Fruelund, who scored 15 goals alone.
It was a seesaw game throughout. The first half ended in a tie at 14. In the final moments of the second half, the game tilted toward Denmark, which hit three straight goals and brought the score to 25-22; but Choi Im-jeong, Moon Pil-hee and Jang So-hee kept Korea’s hope alive by making three shots that sent the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, Jang So-hee missed a winning shot with 20 seconds left, and the game went into the second overtime, tied at 29. Korea scored the first two goals in the second overtime and kept the lead almost to the very end. But with only 10 seconds left, Katrine Fruelund gave hope back to Denmark, tying the game at 34.
At the shootout, Lee Sang-eun made the first goal, but the next two shots from Lim O-kyeong and Moon Pil-hee were blocked, while Denmark made all three shots. The fourth thrower, Kim Cha-youn, hit the shot and made the score 3-2, but Denmark made another shot and ended the game, winning the gold medal.
“It was the most memorable game of my life. Although we won silver, I consider it gold,” head coach Lim Young-chul said after the game. In tears, Mr. Lim added, “I think we lost the game mainly because of South Korean people’s scarce interest in this sport. They only cheer us during the Olympics, and forget us right away. Regardless of skill or stamina, Denmark won the game mostly thanks to their people’s great support and cheering.”
by Park Jun-suk