After going into the Beijing Games as favorites and finishing a disappointing seventh, the Danes have taken measures to ensure that this time they finish the job, taking silver at the 2011 World Championships and gold at the 2012 Euros. The younger Hansen, a left back, has led the charge, with a record 68 goals at Worlds and nine goals in the Euro final against Serbia, which Denmark won 21-19.
Although handball is the most popular women's sport -- and second most popular men's sport, after soccer -- in Europe, it never really caught on in Great Britain. With the host country automatically awarded a slot in team sports, organizers saw an opportunity in 2005 to generate interest and placed ads in the newspaper. Before trials began, potential recruits watched matches on YouTube to gain some idea of the rules. But despite a rocky beginning, the teams have come together and have set their sights on making the top eight and progressing to the second round.
Every time Hansen, whose nickname is "The Hammer," scores a goal for his club team, AG Kobenhavn, the PA system plays MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This"...Norwegian right wing Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth Koren, the 2008 IHF World Player of the Year, is also a nurse...European countries have won 32 of 33 Olympic handball medals.