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East Germans takes handball crown

25 Jul 1980
Moscow 1980, Germany, Handball

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.

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