Handball: French women dethrone Norway to take world title

France took the women's handball world title from Norway with a 23-21 victory over the previous champions in Sunday's final in Hamburg.

Handball: French women dethrone Norway to take world title
Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix

The triumph means France matched a feat only previously achieved by the Soviet Union in 1982, by holding both the women's and men's world titles at the same time.

The sole survivor from the French women's previous world title in 2002 is coach Olivier Krumbholz, who was fired in 2013 but brought back two years later.

Norway, who have dominated women's handball in recent years, built a three-goal lead in the first half, but with goalie Amandine Leynaud excellent, France fought back to lead 12-10 at the break despite finishing the half playing five against seven.

In 'money time' at the end of a breathless match, 20-year-old Orlane Kanor and Allison Pineau made the difference with two goals each before Alexandra Lacrabere scored the final goal with 20 seconds to play.

“It's extraordinary! I'm very proud of us,” Pineau said.

The victory was a case of third time lucky for France, who lost to Norway in World Cup finals in 1999 and 2011.

Norwegian captain Stine Bredal Oftedal did not hide her disappoint at the defeat.

“France hit us hard. They managed to kill our high tempo, and were also very physical in defence. On the occasions we broke through, we also missed a little too often. That’s not what we wanted in a final,” Oftedal told NRK.

READ ALSO: Norway handball gold eases Olympic dismay


Norway backs out of co-hosting Euro handball champs with Denmark over Covid

Norway has pulled out of co-hosting the women's European handball championship just two weeks before the start in December due to restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic, its federation said on Monday.

Norway backs out of co-hosting Euro handball champs with Denmark over Covid
Denmark playing against Norway at last year's handball world cup in Japan. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

“Based on in-depth assessments by Norwegian health authorities as well as clear demands from Norwegian political authorities, it is now clear that Norway cannot be an organiser of the women's European handball championship,” the federation said.

Denmark is now considering whether to host the event on its own.

Strict restrictions are however currently in place in the North Jutland region, where some of the matches were due to be played, after a mutated version of the virus was found in the country's mink population, infecting 12 people.

The European Handball Federation “very much regrets the decision of the Norwegian government”, it said in a statement, referring to the Norwegian health authorities' refusal to grant exemptions to the strict measures it has imposed.

Under current rules, if a player or team official tests positive for the virus the entire team must quarantine, as well as the teams that it has opposed just prior.

The rules are less strict in Denmark.

“Alternatives are being sought with the Danish Handball Association and additional information will be released on Tuesday at the latest,” the European Handball Federation said.

Norway had been due to host around 60 percent of matches, including the final, in Trondheim.

While Norway has been one of the countries in Europe least affected by the pandemic, it has seen a recent uptick in cases which has led authorities to introduce a series of measures, notably on cultural and sporting events.

READ ALSO: Extra coronavirus restrictions 'halve travel' inside Danish region