A guide to handball at the Olympics

Updated: Wednesday, 27 Jun 2012 17:05

COMPETITION DATES
July 28 to August 12

STAR NAME
Mikkel Hansen: The 24-year-old Danish left-back is the reigning World Player of the Year and is widely regarded to be the best in the current game. Powerful and quick, Hansen was the driving force of Denmark's recent European Championship success in Serbia and has represented FC Barcelona and AG Kobenhavn, two of the strongest teams in Europe.

GREATEST OLYMPIAN
Andrey Lavrov: The Russian goalkeeper is the only player to have won three Olympic gold medals, bizarrely with three different countries. He won with the Soviet Union in 1988 in Seoul, the Unified Team of 1992 in Barcelona and then in 2000 in Sydney with Russia. He also competed in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, where Russia finished fifth, and then took his tally to five Olympic Games and four medals by winning bronze at Athens in 2004, aged 42.

BIGGEST FLOP
Germany's men in 2008: The Germans came into the 2008 Olympics in Beijing arguably the best side in the world following their success in the 2007 World Championship in their own country, with stars such as Michael Kraus and Henning Fritz in their ranks. But a dismal display in China saw them lose two and draw one of their five games, sending them home at the end of the preliminary stages.

DID YOU KNOW?
Handball is the most popular team sport for women in Europe and the second for men, after football. Though it is a minor sport in Great Britain, it is showing a remarkable rise in participation figures, with a 600% increase since London was awarded the Games in 2005. GB will be making their first appearance in the Olympics, where it has been a regular sport since 1976.

FIRST APPEARANCE AT THE GAMES
1936.

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