Britain is a country that is dominated by football, cricket and rugby. Add tennis, golf and the sporting calendar for many sporting enthusiasts is full to the brim. Interestingly, indoor sports are not featuring on this list. For the London Olympics Britain for the first time field a men’s handball team. If they manage to win a medal is doubtful. The women’s team is a far more interesting story as the team consists of players ‘assembled’ from all over Europe.
The team for the female tournament was recruited from across the world it appears if the list of names is read out. Zoe van der Weel, Yvonne Leuthold are just two names that do not sound British. By birth, these players are not British but either their parents or grandparents are and thus they are permitted to play for Britain and take a British passport.
In order to get a team together, auditions were held and partnerships initiated that enabled to find the best players for Britain. Six of the men’s team played for TUSEM Essen in Germany. The team have made history because they are the first ever team to represent Britain at the Olympics. Understandably, their chances to win a medal appear to be limited but it’s the Olympic spirit that inspired them certainly. So far they are bottom of their group after a heavy 44-15 defeat against France. This is not a sign to despair as there are four more matches to be played, two of them possible wins: Argentina and Tunisia. The other two are against Sweden and Iceland, two of the best teams in world handball.
Chris Mohr, from Offenbach in Germany has Scottish mother and thus is allowed to play for Britain. He is the centre of the team as he has the most experience at this level.
Compiling a Team
The case for the women’s team is far more difficult. While for the men there have been players in Britain, the women tram had to be assembled from all over the place. There are now three French, three Danish, two Norwegians, a Swiss, a Swede and a German representing the core of the team. Ironically, Lyn Byl, the German player with a British mother will also be the only German handball player at the Olympics this year as both teams, mens and women’s, have failed to qualify.
Placed in a group with Russia, Brazil, Montenegro, Angola and Croatia is certainly no easy task and after two defeats against Russia (37-16) and Montenegro (31-19) spirits might be on a low. However, Angola should be a manageable target for a victory.
A German paper argued that the players for this team have been nicked from other countries in order to enable Britain to take part in as many sports as possible in London. There is a bout of truth to it, however the players themselves responded to a call from the British Handball authorities and agreed voluntarily to join the team.
Lyn Byl and Chris Mohr, two Germans helping British Handball to survive the Olympics but in the long run to it is aimed that the sport will prosper thanks to their help.
- Team Handball: How Hard Can It Be? (blogs.wsj.com)
- London 2012 Olympics: Team GB women’s handball squad named (telegraph.co.uk)
- London 2012: Britain’s first women’s handball team prepares for Olympics (guardian.co.uk)
- London 2012 Olympics: Team GB men and women handball face difficult groups in Games début (telegraph.co.uk)
- London 2012: Handball Team GB heroines go down fighting to Montenegro (guardian.co.uk)
- Defeat for GB women’s handball team (standard.co.uk)
- Team GB handball lose 37-16 to Russia at London 2012 Olympics (thesun.co.uk)
- I shed 6st to win a place on Olympic handball team – says Jane Mayes (thesun.co.uk)
- Live Sport Reports: Defeat for GB women’s handball team (walesonline.co.uk)
- London 2012: Team GB receive a harsh welcome to Olympic handball (guardian.co.uk)
- London 2012 Olympics: Team had to get their hands dirty to reach the top (standard.co.uk)
- Montenegro 31-19 Great Britain: Women’s handball (thesun.co.uk)