The lineup for the women’s handball tournament was completed with the conclusion of the women’s Olympic qualification tournaments. Three tournaments were held where teams competed in a round robin and the top two qualified to the Olympics. The tournaments were held from March 19th to March 21st 2021.
The first tournament was held in Llira, Spain. The first match between Spain and Sweden saw the latter build a small lead over the hosts, maximizing at five early into the second half. Spain, the 2019 World Championship silver medalist, would mount a comeback, scoring the tying goal via Jennifer Gutierrez during the final seconds of the match to draw the game 28-28. Sweden clinched its spot to the Olympics on the second day by defeating Argentina 34-21. On the third and final day, Spain also booked its spot to the Olympics and won the group due to goal differential by defeating Argentina 31-16.
This will be Spain’s fifth Olympics where the team is looking to win its second medal after a bronze medal performance in 2012. Sweden on the other hand will be looking to win its first Olympic medal after qualifying to their fourth straight Olympics.
The second tournament was held in Gyor, Hungary. The host nation opened up their first match with a strong 46-19 victory over Kazakhstan while it took Russia half way into the first half to take control and win 29-24 over Serbia. Both Hungary and Russia picked up their second victories on the second day with Hungary defeating Serbia 31-23 while defending Olympic champion Russia struggled to put any distance against Kazakhstan where they led 17-16 at half-time. The Russians would recover in the second half on route to a 33-26 win. With Olympic qualification out of the way, Hungary started their final match by taking the early lead over Russia, however the latter would take the lead half way into the first on route to winning the group 29-23. Serbia finished third by defeating Kazakhstan 42-30.
As previously mentioned, Russia is the defending Olympic champion. They also won silver at the 2008 Olympics. Hungary returns to the Olympics after missing the previous two. The nation has a record of one silver and two bronze medals
The third tournament was held in Podgorica, Montenegro. The host nation scored a bit of an upset on the opening day where they defeated the 2020 European champion Norway 28-23. Norway would recover during the second match as a strong second half allowed them to defeat Romania 29-24. Needing a large victory over Montenegro, Romania made a late push, but it was too late. Despite winning 28-25 and having all three teams with a 1-1 record, Romania had the worst goal differential (-2) and thus failed to qualify to the Olympics. Montenegro finished first (+2) while Norway finished second (0).
This will be Montenegro’s third straight Olympics. The nation won silver at the 2012 Olympics. Norway is one of the most successful nations at the Olympics where they have won six medals including gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
The Olympic roster for both the men’s and women’s handball tournament are now complete. All that remains is for the draw to determine which group the teams will compete in.