BRASIL!!! Panamerican World Championship Gold for the first time ever!

the new World Champions

the new World Champions

So the many years of efforts finally paid off! Brazil’s women have been close to the very top for a long while now, but always there was that one match that derailed the move towards the medal podium. In the 2012 Olympics, Brazil surprisingly won one of the two groups, but instead of getting a relatively easier path in the quarter-finals, they encountered Norway who had stumbled a bit in their group. So that led to a premature exit.

Now in the World Championship, the Brazilians had what already from the beginning looked like a tough preliminary group, with hosts Serbia and perennial medal favorites Denmark. But they managed to defeat both these opponents and win the group. And at that point we did not yet know that this group in fact had all the three eventual medal winners. But after four more wins, against Netherlands, Hungary and again Denmark and Serbia, Brazil are now at the top of the rankings! Nine straight wins, so nobody could argue that Brazil are not worthy winners! Defeating Denmark in the semi-finals by 27-21 and then coping with the enormous crowd support in favor of their Serbian opponents, and their own nerves, in their first ever final, holding on for a 22-20 win is really impressive!

The talent and spirit of the players has always been there. They have gained lots of international experience by playing for clubs in Europe, mostly Austrian Hypo. And they now have shrewd ant tactically strong support by their Portuguese-speaking Danish coach Morten Soubak. They have great goalkeeping, a spectrum of offensive weapons and, in my opinion, an enormously dynamic and alert defense. Their impressive footwork and reactions always seem to put them in the right place at the right moment. All in all, they play a positive and attractive handball!

While the Brazilians should now enjoy this special moment, I am sure that both they and everyone else can see the special significance of these gold medals, when one keeps in mind that the next Olympic Games will be held precisely in Brazil. So this victory should mean a lot for the interest in handball in Brazil, and for the determination of these players to hang in there and come even more prepared in 2016.

The Brazilian victory will also have implications for other PanAmerican handball countries in the sense that, unless IHF competition regulations change again, no less than four other teams from PanAmerica, plus of course Brazil, will be able to participate in the 2015 World Championships. This should give a boost in a number of countries who will now find it realistic to get onto the world scene. Finally, as someone who for over 30 years has been active in the PanAmerican Handball Federation, I must say that I feel really happy or even proud, because I know what it means and I know what it takes for a country in our continent to get to the number one position. From all of us in Panamerica: well done, and well deserved, Brazil!