The Icelandic national team in men’s handball earned the bronze in the European Championship in Handball in Austria yesterday with a 29-26 victory over Poland. On Saturday, Iceland lost the semi-final game against France 28-36.
Iceland’s coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson told visir.is that he is very proud of his team’s performance and thankful for invaluable support.
“We have felt the support from the Icelandic nation which is great. It has been unique to feel the support and it encourages us to help the nation during these difficult times. […] We wanted to do all in our power to demonstrate something positive about the life in Iceland,” the coach said.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir sent a telegram to Austria to congratulate the Icelandic handball team and thank them for their efforts, Stöd 2 reports.
“The victory is a welcome as it raises the spirits of the nation during a difficult time in its history,” the telegram reads.
The PM also revealed that the government had decided to show the nation’s gratitude by supporting the team in Iceland with ISK 10 million (USD 78,000, EUR 56,000).
France is now a treble champion in handball, World, European and Olympic, while Croatia ended up in second place at the European Championship.
Iceland has never won the bronze before at a major championship in handball and this is their best achievement to date at a European Championship.
In 2008, the Icelandic handball team claimed the silver at the Olympics in Beijing, which is considered the biggest achievement in Iceland’s sporting history.
In the game against Poland, the first half was impeccable and ended with Iceland leading by eight goals. In the second half, Poland’s goalkeeper Slowomir Szmal put up a strong defense, causing Iceland to almost lose their advantage, visir.is.
Icelandic goalkeeper Hreidar Levý Gudmundsson made an impressive showing in the second half and deflected many hard shots towards the end.
Young gun Aron Pálmarsson didn’t let a few mistakes in a row get to him and scored an important goal at a valuable time in the game. Gudjón Valur Sigurdsson scored the most goals for Iceland, eight in total.
In related news, a baby goat was born at the Reykjavík zoo last week—which is very rare in January—and the buck has now been named Gudmundur after Iceland’s handball coach, Morgunbladid reports.
Click here to read more about Iceland’s performance at the European Championship.