| Event type

Handball, Men

Date10 – 24 August 2008
LocationGuojia Tiyuguan, Beijing Aolinpike Gongyuan, Beijing / Ao Ti Zhongxin Tiyuguan, Beijing Aolinpike Gongyuan, Beijing
Participants172 from 12 countries
FormatRound-robin pools advance teams to classification matches.

The 12 men’s teams qualified for the 2008 Olympics as follows – China as the host nation; Germany as the 2007 World Champion; the top six teams from the 2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (Poland, Iceland, France, Spain, Croatia, Russia); the 2008 European Champion (Denmark); Brazil as the 2007 Pan American Games Champion; and the winners of the 2007 Asian and 2008 African Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (South Korea and Egypt, respectively).

The story of the 2008 men’s handball competition was that of a country of only 320,000 inhabitants. Despite its size, Iceland had been a handball nation since the 1950s, although they had never medalled internationally. At the 1992 Olympics, they had come closest, losing the bronze medal match to France. At the 2012 Olympics, their pool stage performance was a mixed bag: wins against Russia and World Champion Germany, but also ties to Denmark and Egypt, and a loss to South Korea. In the incredibly tight pool rankings, this placed them third, while the Germans were out. Iceland played Poland in the quarter-finals. Poland had been the runner-up at the 2007 World Championships, and had beaten Iceland at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. But the Icelanders’ tough defense and accurate fast-breaks put them in a 5-goal lead at half-time, from which the Poles never recovered.

In the semi-finals, Spain awaited. Having twice medalled at the Olympics, Spain had claimed the 2005 world title. But as against Poland, the Icelanders dominated and eventually easily won 36-30 to earn their first ever spot in a major international final. Hoping to claim the nation’s first ever gold medal, Iceland faced France in the final. The country’s president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who called it the “biggest moment in Icelandic sports history”, was in attendance at the National Indoor Stadium, while most of the country came to a halt to watch the game on television. But the French, who had been favored for the gold back in Athens 2004, opened up a four goal lead, supported by their strong goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer. In the second half France, even increased its lead to a huge 9 points, but the match eventually ended in a 28-23 victory for the French. As with Iceland, it was France’s first ever Olympic medal in handball. In the match for bronze, defending champions Croatia failed to medal, losing 35-29 to Spain.

6Russian FederationRUS
8Republic of KoreaKOR
12People's Republic of ChinaCHN

Preliminary Round

Date10 – 18 August 2008

Group A

6People's Republic of ChinaCHN0050104-164
Match #110 Aug 9:00CroatiaCRO31 – 29SpainESP
Match #210 Aug 14:00FranceFRA34 – 26BrazilBRA
Match #310 Aug 19:00PolandPOL33 – 19People's Republic of ChinaCHN
Match #412 Aug 9:00CroatiaCRO33 – 14BrazilBRA
Match #512 Aug 14:00FranceFRA33 – 19People's Republic of ChinaCHN
Match #612 Aug 15:45SpainESP30 – 29PolandPOL
Match #714 Aug 10:45PolandPOL28 – 25BrazilBRA
Match #814 Aug 15:45SpainESP36 – 22People's Republic of ChinaCHN
Match #914 Aug 20:45FranceFRA23 – 19CroatiaCRO
Match #1016 Aug 9:00BrazilBRA29 – 22People's Republic of ChinaCHN
Match #1116 Aug 14:00FranceFRA28 – 21SpainESP
Match #1216 Aug 19:00PolandPOL27 – 24CroatiaCRO
Match #1318 Aug 10:45SpainESP36 – 35BrazilBRA
Match #1418 Aug 15:45CroatiaCRO33 – 22People's Republic of ChinaCHN
Match #1518 Aug 20:45FranceFRA30 – 30PolandPOL

Group B

1Republic of KoreaKOR3026122-129
4Russian FederationRUS2125136-131
Match #110 Aug 10:45IcelandISL33 – 31Russian FederationRUS
Match #210 Aug 15:45GermanyGER27 – 23Republic of KoreaKOR
Match #310 Aug 20:45DenmarkDEN23 – 23EgyptEGY
Match #412 Aug 10:45Russian FederationRUS28 – 27EgyptEGY
Match #512 Aug 19:00Republic of KoreaKOR31 – 30DenmarkDEN
Match #612 Aug 20:45IcelandISL33 – 29GermanyGER
Match #714 Aug 9:00GermanyGER25 – 23EgyptEGY
Match #814 Aug 14:00Republic of KoreaKOR22 – 21IcelandISL
Match #914 Aug 19:00DenmarkDEN25 – 24Russian FederationRUS
Match #1016 Aug 10:45Republic of KoreaKOR24 – 22EgyptEGY
Match #1116 Aug 15:45GermanyGER24 – 24Russian FederationRUS
Match #1216 Aug 20:45DenmarkDEN32 – 32IcelandISL
Match #1318 Aug 9:00EgyptEGY32 – 32IcelandISL
Match #1418 Aug 14:00Russian FederationRUS29 – 22Republic of KoreaKOR
Match #1518 Aug 19:00DenmarkDEN27 – 21GermanyGER


Date20 August 2008
FormatWinner of each match advanced to semi-finals.
Match #120 Aug 12:00FranceFRA27 – 24Russian FederationRUS
Match #220 Aug 14:15IcelandISL32 – 30PolandPOL
Match #320 Aug 18:00CroatiaCRO26 – 24DenmarkDEN
Match #420 Aug 20:15SpainESP29 – 24Republic of KoreaKOR

Classification Round 5-8

Date22 August 2008
FormatClassification matches.
Match #122 Aug 12:00Russian FederationRUS28 – 27DenmarkDEN
Match #222 Aug 14:15PolandPOL29 – 26Republic of KoreaKOR


Date22 August 2008
FormatWinner of each match advanced to final round.
Match #122 Aug 18:00FranceFRA25 – 23CroatiaCRO
Match #222 Aug 20:15IcelandISL36 – 30SpainESP

Final Round

Date24 August 2008
FormatMedal round.
Match 1/224 Aug 15:45FranceFRA28 – 23IcelandISL
Match 3/424 Aug 13:30SpainESP35 – 29CroatiaCRO
Match 5/624 Aug 10:15PolandPOL29 – 28Russian FederationRUS
Match 7/824 Aug 8:00DenmarkDEN37 – 26Republic of KoreaKOR