The 2012 London Summer Olympic Games are almost here and handball will be among the featured sports. All of the information in this article comes from the London Olympics' official website.
About the Sport
Each of the handball teams that are competing in the 2012 London Summer Olympics contain 14 athletes, seven of which will be on the court at any one time. During the games, squads move the ball up and down the court for "two 30-minute halves" with the intent of getting the ball past the opposing team's goalie. Athletes cannot touch the ball with their feet; they must either dribble the ball with their hands or pass it to a teammate in order to move it down the court. The games tend to be fast paced, high scoring affairs. "It is not uncommon to see [two teams score] 50 goals or more in a single match."
The handball court is 40 meters (43.74 yards) long and 20 meters (21.87 yards) wide. It contains two goalposts, one at each end. The court is marked with several different lines, which help referees and players know where to perform certain actions, like taking penalty throws. "'D' shaped" sections of the court near the goalposts are colored in blue, denoting portions of the playing area that "only the goalkeeper[s] may enter."
Men's and Women's Tournaments
The London Olympics will feature a 12 team men's handball tournament and a 12-team women's handball competition. Both events start with a preliminary round in which the competitors are divided into two groups of six teams each. It is a round robin format with each squad playing everyone else in its group.
"Teams receive two points for a win, one for a draw and nothing for a loss." The top four teams (based on points) from each group advance to the single elimination quarterfinals, with the survivors taking part in a single elimination semifinals. The two semifinal losers will play each other for a bronze medal, while the two semifinal winners will compete against each other in the gold medal game.
Important Dates and Times
The first rounds of the handball tournaments run from Saturday, July 28 through Monday, Aug. 6. On these days, the first game will begin at 4:30 a.m. EST with the final game starting at 4:15 p.m. EST. The women's quarterfinals occur on Tuesday, Aug. 7, with the men's quarterfinals taking place on Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Like in the first rounds, the quarterfinals will begin early in the morning for people living on the East Coast of the United States, with the final game of the day taking place in the late afternoon. The women's semifinals will take place at 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 9, with the men's semifinals being held in the same time slots on the following day. The women's bronze and gold medal matches will take place on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively. The men's medal matches will occur on Sunday, Aug. 12, at 6 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
The Copper Box, located in the Olympic Park, will host the first rounds of the men's and women's handball events, as well as the women's quarterfinals. The new state of the art facility was built specifically for the 2012 London Olympic Games, with construction on the arena completed in 2011.
The remaining handball contests will take place in the "Basketball Arena ... one of the largest temporary venues ever built for a Games." The facility is located in the Olympic Park.
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The author is a freelance writer who happens to be an avid sports fan. He is not affiliated with any Olympic organizations or handball teams.