The Slovenia Times

Slovenian handballers punch ticket for Paris Olympics

Slovenia's men's handball team. Photo: Kolektiff

The Slovenian men's handball team has qualified for the Summer Olympics in Paris by finishing second at a qualifying tournament in Granollers, Spain, in what will be their fourth appearance in the Olympics after 2000, 2004 and 2016.

The road to Paris was not easy with Slovenia having to face the hosts of the tournament, Spain, after defeating Brazil 27:26 in the first match of the tournament on 13 March.

Slovenia went on to loose at the hands of Spain (22:32) but beat Bahrain on 17 March (32:26). They then had to sit out for the outcome of the Spain-Brazil match to punch the ticket to Paris.

Spain beat Brazil 28:26 to win the tournament and enable Slovenia to take the second place and qualify for what will be the fourth Summer Olympics for the men's national handball team, the most for any team sport in Slovenia's history.

"These are the most beautiful moments, but could as well be the most difficult in my career," said Slovenia's captain Jure Dolenec, who was injured in the match against Brazil and could not join the team against Bahrain.

"I think we have deserved the spot in the Olympics. Thanks to Spain for doing their job and playing in the spirit of fair play and winning," Dolenec said in reference to Spain not having to win against Brazil to qualify for Paris.

"I feel very Olympic today," Slovenia's head coach UroŇ° Zorman said, admitting that he cried a little bit at the end. "My congratulations to the lads for this tournament. I think we have deserved it."

In addition to Slovenia and Spain, the Olympic tournament will feature Croatia, Germany, Norway, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Argentina, Egypt and the hosts France.

Slovenia will get their opponents in the group stage of the tournament, to be played from 25 July to 11 August, in a draw in Paris on 16 April.


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