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Norway wins Olympic women's handball gold
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19:00, August 23, 2008

Gro Hammerseng of Norway shoots during the women's gold medal match of handball event between Norway and Russia at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 23, 2008. Norway beat Russia and claimed the title in this event. (Xinhua)

Norway reaped its first Olympic gold in women's handball on Saturday in Beijing, downing world champion Russia 34-27.

Before the victory, the best result of the Scandinavian country in the event had been its two Olympic silvers, respectively in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

"Today's fast attack in the first half worked very well. That is the key to our victory. It is the happiest moment and it is the greatest win, "Norwegian left back Katja Nyberg said.

Her teammate Goeril Snorroeggen told reporters,"I am so delighted and will go to a bar to celebrate."

Goalkeeper Katrine Lunde Haraldsen made brilliant saves to secure the victory. She said after the match,"I am tired. I was very nervous at the beginning of the match but I found later our rivals were more nervous than us. We had a good start and stunned Russia."

"It is the biggest moment in my career. I am satisfied with my performance throughout the Olympics," added Haraldsen.

The Norwegian girls dominated the first half with sweeping attacks. With diversified transferring and high speed, they took advantage of Russia's porous defense and scored continuously with fast breaks.

Nyberg and pivot Marit Malm Frafjord came into limelight at about the 26th minute with their marvelous blitz when Russian players made an error in attacking. Norway led by 18-13 before the halftime.

Russia mounted a counterattack after the interval, but the assaults were too weak to penetrate the strengthened defense of Norway. It only garnered six scores midway throughout the second half while Norwegian girls have extended their lead to nine points.

With three minutes before the buzzer, the lead of Norway was increased further to 11 points.

One high-profile scorer of the Norwegian squad was right back Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth who accumulated nine goals throughout the match, followed by pivot Else Marthe Soerlie Lybekk who brought seven points for her team.

Norwegian goalkeepers also enjoyed high efficiency in savings, one with 29 percent and the other with 39 percent, standing in a sharp contrast to their Russian counterparts of which the rates were all 19 percent.

Russia won the title in the World Championships last year.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 48 17 27 92/td>
2 USA 31 36 36 103
4 Russia 19 20 23 62
3 Great Britain 18 13 14 45
5 Germany 15 10 15 40
6 Australia 13 14 16 43
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