Handball: What You've Missed Since London

France's men and Norway's women return to the Olympics seeking their third gold medals

Handball medalists in London


  • Gold: France
  • Silver: Sweden
  • Bronze: Croatia


  • Gold: Norway
  • Silver: Montenegro
  • Bronze: Spain

World Championships


  • 2013: Spain
  • 2015: France


  • 2013: Brazil
  • 2015: Norway

Who's back?

On the men's side, France returns to the Olympics seeking a third straight Olympic gold medal. With a typically loaded squad, the French also boast three International Handball Federation World Player of the Year award recipients on this year's squad: Nikola Karabatic (2007, 2014), Thierry Omeyer (2008) and Daniel Narcisse (2012). All three players are making their fourth consecutive Olympic appearance.

For the women, Norway enters Rio in pursuit of a third gold medal of their own. For the Norwegians, the best line player and goalie of the 2012 tournament will be returning in Heidi Loke and Kari Aalvik Grimsbo, respectively.

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After finishing sixth in London, Brazil hopes to have a strong showing as the host nation. Sporting two of the last three IHF World Player of the Year honorees, Eduarda Amorim and Alexandra do Nascimento, the Brazilian squad should be a force to be reckoned with in Rio.

Who's Missing?

 Spain failed to qualify a team on the men's side for the first time in 40 years. After finishing in seventh in 2012, Spain's last medal was a bronze at the 2008 Games. 

While not a consistent powerhouse — they only have three total Olympic medals in men's handball — their presence in the field has long been a foregone conclusion. Iceland, who finished in fourth place at the London Games, also failed to qualify for Rio. 

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Croatia's women's squad was the highest placed team in the London tournament that failed to qualify this time around. After a seventh place finish in the previous Games, Croatia did not even qualify for the 2016 Olympic Qualification Tournament. 

The Americans 

Neither U.S. handball team qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The men and women last qualified for handball in the 1996 Games, where they both received automatic nods as the host nation. 

Prior to 1996, the women had qualified for the previous three Games — including an automatic qualification at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The men have qualified for six total Olympic tournaments (1936, 1972-1988, 1996). Neither team qualified for the 2015 Pan American Games, their best chance at earning spots for the 2016 Olympics.

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