While the Olympic torch has been extinguished, the fire that Iceland’s Handball team has set is still burning strong. While the team took a 5th place finish overall in the Handball tournament, just shy of the podium, Iceland performed with strength and perseverance until the final buzzer sounded. Here’s a rundown of Iceland’s performance in the London Olympics:
The first Icelandic Handball game of the 2012 Olympics started with an exciting win over Argentina on July 29th! Much of the game stayed close until the end when the team rallied together and ended their first game with a 31-25 victory.
Next, on July 31st, the team took on Tunisia. With the island’s President, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, in the stands, Iceland once again came out on top with a final score of 32-22. After this game, it was very clear that Iceland was there to win and ready to take on their next competitor, Sweden.
On August 3, both teams took their positions, Iceland in white and Sweden in blue. The crowd buzzed with excitement because if Iceland won, it would be the first time in 48 years that Iceland would see a victory over the Swedes in a major tournament! It was a tough game, but with a final score of 33-32 final score Iceland did it!
Didn’t think it could get any better? As the games continued, Iceland prepared themselves to compete against the reigning gold medal champions, France. Four years ago, Iceland lost to France in the final round of 2008 Olympic Handball games. They took home the silver medal, but this time Iceland was not ready to go down without a fight! With both teams showing extraordinary skill and incredible teamwork, Iceland managed to end the game one up, 30-29.
Finally, on August 6, Iceland took on the host team of Great Britain. This game would be the deciding factor if Iceland would continue the move on to the 2012 Olympic Handball semi-finals. Ending with a 41-24 victory, the island nation was poised to battle Hungary for a spot in the semi-finals.
On August 8, Iceland and Hungary went head to head on the Handball court. But this game was neck and neck until the last seconds on the clock. Mate Lekai of Hungary scored an equalizer with two seconds of regulation time left, entering into two periods of extra time. After the first 10-minute overtime, the teams were level at 30-30. In the second period of overtime, Hungary edged ahead of Iceland, with the final score of 34-33, with Hungary coming out on top.
Though Iceland’s Olympics dreams didn’t quite come to fruition, Iceland’s strong Handball program promises a tremendous return in Rio at the next Olympic Games. The final standings of the Olympic Handball tournament show that France took home gold, Sweden the silver, and Croatia the bronze. Hungary, the team that knocked Iceland out of medal contention, finished in 4th place.
For more information on Handball at the London 2012 Olympics, click here.