Denmark stops France winning record handball gold medal

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Denmark's players had to step it up against one of handball's greatest teams - and that's exactly what they did.

Facing a French team which was aiming for a record third straight Olympic gold, the Danish defense held on to close out a 28-26 win in Sunday's final, led by eight goals from Mikkel Hansen.

''It was just perfect to finish it off like this,'' Denmark right back Mads Christiansen said. ''We had everything to win, and nothing to lose, not like France.''

Denmark had lost to France in the group stage and while its shooting was not always the best against goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer, the Danes outshot the French 51-39. Denmark took the lead in the first half, opened up a five-goal advantage with 10 minutes to go and held off a French comeback.

''I think that we were tired and that's why we lost, basically,'' France player Nikola Karabatic said. ''But in spite of it all we have a silver medal.''

Earlier in the day, Germany beat Poland 31-25 to win the bronze medal and a measure of pride following a tight semifinal loss to France.

The Olympic handball tournament had been expected to mark a watershed as the game spreads beyond its traditional heartland in Europe, but in the end, all the men's and women's medals were won by European teams.

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