Olympics 2008: Handball in China

Handball has been an Olympic sport since the Olympic Games in 1972 held in Munich. However, China has not had much success in this event. The only medals won were by Chinese athletes in Los Angeles at the Olympic Games 1984. Where, the women’s team won the bronze medal. At the Olympics 2004 in Athens they reached the quarterfinals. However, once there they were eventually defeated by the later Olympic winners Denmark. The final score was 28 to 32.

The handball competition at the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing will take place from 9th August to 24th August. The ‘National Indoor Stadium’ will serve as the venue and comprises 19,000 spectator seats. The stadium is on the ‘Olympic Green’ (an Olympic park) in Beijing, where the competitions in trampoline and gymnastics will also be held.

The Chinese cannot look back on a particular long history of handball. This arguably a key reason why they have not had much success at the Olympics. Handball was not taught in China before 1956, until the ‘Beijing Physical Culture Institute’ began to teach it for the first time. Since 1974 annual handball championships have been organised regularly.

Handball competitions also take place at the Asian championships every two years. However, until now, China has not performed particularly well at these occasions. All gold medals of the last three Asian championships went to Kuwait.

At the moment it is not possible to assess how China will fare at the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing. However, China puts a lot of money, energy and motivation into the support of its talents to an extent it has never done before. Whether this will be sufficient enough to win China's first medal in handball since 1984 remains to be seen.

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