In women’s championships it is often a battle between Denmark and Norway, whereas the Swedish successes over the years have come on the men’s side. In fact, Sweden has never before won a medal of any kind in any international championship for women. But Thursday evening in Santo Domingo this trend was broken. Sweden managed to beat Norway in the final, 34-29.
It may seem as if it was a relatively close game, but in fact Sweden followed its pattern of having a long stretch in almost every match where they simply pulled away from the opponents. It was 6-4 after 15 minutes but suddenly 17-10 at half-time and 20-10 early in the second half. Thereafter the Norwegians managed to move gradually closer, but the Swedish victory never seemed threatened.
Sweden had been impressive throughout, having defeated the group rivals France (who finished fourth) by 31-18 and then taking a 22-13 half-time lead against Hungary. The quarter-final was the only tough game, where Spain took Sweden to overtime, but the Swedish girls prevailed 24-22. Then in the semi-final it was back to a big win, as the bronze medal team from the Netherlands was swept aside, 38-21.
The final rankings include one disappointing feature. The best non-European team was the home team from the Dominican Republic in 8th place, after an unexpectedly strong showing, but partly thanks to a favorable draw. The normal top teams from outside Europe here came in 9th (Korea), 10th (Angola) and 13th (Brazil). This is not a very promising outcome if one has the hope that the ‘non-Europeans’ might gradually catch up with the traditional powers from Europe. The only non-traditional participation at the end was that of the Iranian referees Mousavian/Taghavi in the final.