Norway wins handball World Championship
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
After beating France, 29-22, in an exciting IHF World Handball Championship final in Spain, Norway’s women’s handball team became the winningest World Championship team in history. This happened even though this is Norway’s first World Championship since 2015.
The final in Granollers, just outside Barcelona, was expected to be an even affair between the championship’s favorites. Norway and France are ranked as No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, respectively. The teams met in last year’s European Championship final where Norway won 22-20.
The game started out even, and the teams were tied 7-7 after 17 minutes of play. Then followed 10 horrible Norwegian minutes and France was suddenly leading 12-7. Despite several two-minute penalties and Norwegian opportunities, the French women kept a five- or six-goal lead throughout the first half. But in the last two minutes of the half, the Norwegians were able to reduce their lead to 16-12.
“We’re struggling both offensively and defensively. Offensively, we need to play less complicated and just get the ball in the back of the net. Defensively, we need to avoid their interference plays,” assistant coach and former national team player, Tonje Larsen told Viaplay at halftime.
However, Norway started the second half superbly, and the score was level at 16-16 after just two and a half minutes of play. Goalkeeper Silje Solberg, who was substituted on for Katrine Lunde a few minutes before halftime, was on the top of her game. Six minutes into the second half, Norway took the lead back when Henny Reistad’s shot hit the net. The lead was 19-18. Norway.
Midway through the second half, Norway was up by four points, 24-20, much thanks to Solberg, who played one of the best games of her career. She had a save percentage of 50%, including seven one-on-one saves and held France to six goals in the final 30 minutes.
“It’s probably one of the best halves I have ever played, and extremely important for winning the gold,” Solberg told NRK. “We needed saves, and I am incredibly happy that I was able to contribute with some—with good help from the defense in front of me.”
Heading into the last 10 minutes of the game, Norway had a six-goal lead, and the game was over. France was never able to come back, and Norway won both the final and the World Championship.
This title is Norway’s fourth IHF World Handball Championship and makes the Norwegian women the winningest nation in the championship’s history.
Reistad led Norway with six goals, Kari Brattset Dale and Stine Bredal Oftedal had five each. Dale was an incredible 17-for-17 combined in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final, and 38-for-46 in the eight games she played. Camilla Herrem finished the tournament with 811 career goals in 287 games for Norway over 15 years.
Reistad (left back) and Nora Mørk (right back) earned a place on the tournament’s All-Star team, while line-player Dale was named the tournament’s MVP.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 7, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.