The London Handball Cup, part of the London Prepares series and a test event for London 2012 was deemed a success by organisers, athletes and spectators alike after five days of competition culminated in a gold medal for Austria..
Six women’s teams battled it out in the new Handball Arena in the Olympic Park with Austria defeating Poland 23-22 in a closely fought final. Angola, who were unlucky not to claim a final place after losing 26-25 to Poland in the semi-final, took the bronze medal with a 29-24 win over China. Despite a well earned 22-20 win over Angola in the group stages, Great Britain failed to make the semi-finals after losing to Austria in their final group match.
Over 10,000 tickets for the event were given out by London 2012 organisers to local schools, colleges and residents, making for a fantastic atmosphere in the Handball Arena which will be used as a multi-use venue after the Games.
The test event was used to test vital operations by London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) including testing of competition equipment, scoreboards, results, workforce and officials.
David Luckes, Head of Sport Competition at LOCOG said: “It is great to see competitive action in the Handball Arena. The test event has run very smoothly and the atmosphere generated by the local crowd has been electric. Not only have we been able to test our operations, this has also been a great chance to showcase Handball to a wider audience. We have been testing our scoring systems and timing technology as well as our workforce. The ability to integrate within a team to deliver a competitive event has been an invaluable experience for our staff and volunteers and will stand us in good stead for next summer.“
Peter Sichelschmidt, Member of the International Handball Federation Competition and Organising Commission said of the event: “We are delighted with the event. It has been well organised with a fantastic atmosphere. There have been no major issues, just a few small things, but that is why we have a test event. It was vital to run this event prior to the Olympic Games next year, and with the knowledge we will take from this event, I am confident that Handball will be a real success at London 2012.”
Herbert Müller, coach of the winning Austrian team said: “It was a great honour to play at this tournament and I really like the Olympic Handball Arena, especially the multicoloured seats. The organisation was perfect and the whole Austrian team really enjoyed it.”
The Handball Arena was the third Olympic Park venue to be completed in May 2011 and will have up to a 6,500 capacity at Games time. After the Games, capacity will be increased to accommodate up to 7,500 spectators as it becomes a multi-use venue for community use, athletic training and events.