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East Germany takes handball crown

East Germany takes handball crown

25/07/1980

Handball glory at the summer Olympic Games has generally been the preserve of Central and Eastern European countries since the sport was introduced at the 1936 Games in Berlin.

The only major absentees from the tournament at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow were the world champions, West Germany, and a formidable line-up of teams targeted gold at the Sokolniki Sports Palace.

The East German team looked in muscular form from the outset, combining brute strength and speed around the court to sweep aside a series of opponents in the preliminary rounds.

They won all but one of the qualifying round matches – a 14-14 draw with the powerful Hungarians – inflicting some heavy defeats, including a 27-20 pummelling of the Cubans.

Russia, on the other hand, was in a far tighter group, losing to Romania and only scraping it through to the final by virtue of goal difference thanks to crushing wins over Kuwait and Algeria.

The lead switched several times in a scintillating match, which was tied in the dying seconds by a Russian penalty throw.

The Russians went 21-20 ahead, but then the East Germans ran in three unanswered goals to put the pressure right back on the hosts.

They were unable to level again, and as the final buzzer went off the East Germans could barely contain themselves: the reigning champions and overwhelming favourites had been beaten.

Discover the best photos of Moscow 1980

  • Opening Ceremony Moscow 1980

    The final torchbearer, basketballer Sergei Belov, in the Moscow Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony

    ©IOC

  • Relay Moscow 1980

    A torchbearer during the Moscow 1980 Games Torch relay

    ©IOC

  • Aleksandr Dityatin (URS)

    Aleksandr Dityatin on the rings at the Moscow 1980 Games

    ©IOC

  • Winner's medal Moscow 1980

    The reverse of this medal is very different from its obverse. However, it is not the work of the same artist. While the obverse was a creation by Giuseppe Cassioli, the reverse was designed by Ilya Postol, a young Soviet sculptor. We can see several elements that stand out through their stylisation: an Olympic cauldron, an athletics track in the background and the official logo of the Moscow Games on the top right ©CIO

  • Winner's medal Moscow 1980

    The obverse comprises a design by Tuscan artist Giuseppe Cassioli. This motif can be found on the obverse of all the winner’s medals presented at the Summer Games since 1928 with the exception of three special cases: Barcelona'92, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. An inscription, in Cyrillic, allows us to make the link with the Moscow Games. This is its transcription in the Latin alphabet and its translation: “Igry XXII Olympiady Moskva 1980” / “Games of the XXII Olympiad, Moscow 1980”©IOC

  • Opening Ceremony Moscow 1980

    View of the delegations standing in front of the Misha mascot created by the public holding up boards

    ©IOC

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