Danish dynasty, explosive Norway quest for handball gold

HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: Denmark upset France 30-28 in the men’s final to deny France a third consecutive Olympic gold medal. Russia eliminated two-time reigning champ Norway in overtime in the women’s semifinals and then beat France 22-19 for the gold.

TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: Denmark was the underdog in the 2016 men’s final but now it’s the frontrunner after winning men’s world titles in 2019 and this year. European champion Spain, Sweden and France are all strong contenders. In the women’s event, the Netherlands arrives as world champion for the first time and Norway holds the European crown.

ATHLETES TO WATCH: Norway’s Nora Mork was top scorer at the 2016 Olympics and then had injury problems but returned in explosive style with a championship-leading 52 goals at the European Championship in 2020. France’s Estelle Nze Minko was European Championship MVP last year. Danish left-back Mikkel Hansen is a three-time world men’s player of the year and led Denmark with seven goals in the 26-24 world championship final win over Sweden in January.

GOLD MEDAL MOMENT(S): Aug. 7: men’s medal games; Aug. 8: women’s medal games.

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