The women’s competition had a really unexpected final outcome, as the highly favored Korean women failed to make it to the final. They lost 28-29 against a surprisingly strong Japanese team in the semi-finals. It seems the Koreans forgot to utilize their strength as a team and tried to win the game through individual plays. In the meantime, the Chinese women had a relatively easy time in defeating Kazakhstan in the other semi-final by the score of 24-18. Perhaps also this result constituted a bit of a surprise, although the Chinese team had played at a consistently strong level throughout the event.
In the final, the Chinese confirmed their impressive form, by pulling away easily in the second half to a clear 31-22 win against Japan, after a narrow lead at half-time. Korea presumably wanted some revenge in the bronze medal game, and they went on to crush Kazakhstan with 38-26, after having started at full speed right from the beginning. It will now remain to be seen if this shocking outcome for Korea, with a third place behind both China and Japan, is just a temporary setback or the beginning of a tougher battle for the top spot in Asia in coming years. At least it may suggest that both China and Japan will have to be reckoned with in the next World Championship.
The men’s final promised to be an interesting fight between Korea and Iran, but also here the Koreans ‘put the foot to the gas pedal’ from the outset. The half-time score was 16-9, and even if Iran scored the first four goals in the second half, Korea knew how to respond. Soon the margin was 30-21, and only towards the very end did the Koreans allow Iran to reduce the margin to the more respectable 32-28. Japan relied on speed and fast-breaks to stay ahead of Saudi Arabia throughout the bronze medal game, with a final result of 27-20.
Finally, for the sake of a narrowing of the gap between East Asia and the Gulf Region in the polarized handball scene in Asia, it is interesting to notice that India showed some progress with a 9th place among the men and an 8th place among the women, after some gradually more respectable results. Thailand came in 7th among the women.