The outcome of the handball competition in these Games which currently take place in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, are certainly of importance to the entire handball continent. This is one of the three basic qualifying events for the PanAmerican Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October 2011; and the PanAmerican Games, apart from obviously being important in their own right, also serve as the qualifying event in handball for the 2012 Olympics.
With the Panamerican Games being held in the Central/Caribbean region as now is the case in 2011, the eight slots for the handball event (in the same way for both men and women) are filled as follows: South America: 3, Central/Caribbean: 2 plus the host Mexico, and then USA/Canada: 1. The eighth and final slot is then filled through a special tournament with the next one team from the South (=Chile), the next two from the Central/Caribbean and the loser USA/Canada.
The women’s competition in Mayaguez is finished as far as the slots for Guadalajara are concerned. The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico will play in the final today, while Mexico will play Costa Rica for the bronze. However, as noted above, Mexico is already qualified as a host, so regardless of the result, Costa Rica can do no better than grabbing one of places in the tournament determining the eighth slot in Guadalajara. The other such chance goes to El Salvador who placed fifth. The only empty-handed team is Guatemala in the last place.
Prior to the semifinals, all the six teams played in a round-robin format, but it was already from the first day clear that there were ‘3+3’ teams in the competition. The finalists plus Mexico were several classes above the other three teams. The average result when one of the top three met one of the bottom three was a resounding 41-16…. The three top teams were more evenly matched, although with the sense that Puerto Rico and Mexico would have to be content with a fight for silver and bronze.
It also seems clear that [i]Chile and the loser USA/Canada should have little to fear from Costa Rica and El Salvador in the upcoming fight for the eighth PanAmerican slot[/i]. Chile and USA/Canada have typically been more at the level of the top three Central/Caribbean teams. And to sum it up then, apart from this eight team, the other women’s teams qualified for Guadalajara are [b]Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico[/b], and the [u]winner USA/Canada[/u].
Comments on the men’s event, which starts later today, will be provided in a few days time. Here a battle between three teams (Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela) for two slots (again together with Mexico) can be expected.