Norway’s popular women’s national handball team suffered a sudden setback at the world championships in Belgrade on Wednesday, losing to host country Serbia by a score of 28-25. While Norwegian fans and their team were disappointed, other think the result was healthy for the future of the sport.
The defeat to Serbia came during quarter-final action and knocks Norway out of the championships altogether. That came as a bit of a shock, since the Norwegian women have been dominating the sport internationally, not least after winning gold at the Olympics in London last summer.
They were the favourites to win the world championship, too, and their matches already in the run-up to the finals attracted record amounts of TV viewers at home. Their match against the Czech Republic Monday evening drew around 941,000, reported TV2, which itself was looking forward to airing more matches through the week that would feature the seemingly unstoppable Norwegian players.
It wasn’t to be. Now the Norwegians are out of the action, but not everyone was disappointed. Øystein Havang, expert commentator for NRK Radio, said earlier this week that it would be “sad” if Norway won the championship once again. Losing, he claimed, can help them be motivated to further improve.Other commentators have also noted that rival countries’ teams now may get a chance to do so as well.