The Spanish women's handball team have booked their place at this summer's Tokyo Olympics following an emphatic 31-16 win over Argentina on Sunday. The result, part of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Llíria in Valencia, means that the team has now qualified for the last three editions of the Games.
Sweden made up the three-team group, with the top two earning places at the Olympics. The fourth team scheduled to be in the group, Senegal, pulled out over health concerns. Following a 28-28 draw with Sweden on Friday and the Scandinavians’ 34-21 win over the Argentinians on Saturday, a draw against the South Americans would have been enough to secure Spain second place and therefore an Olympic berth. However, they went one better and secured top spot on goal difference with a comfortable win.
The importance of what was at stake seemed to be weighing on the Spanish players’ minds at the start of the game and Argentina took a 10-0 lead. When Spain eventually got on the scoreboard midway into the first half, the nerves melted away and they began to dominate, taking a 19-10 lead into the break.
In the second half, this pattern of play largely continued, and Argentina found it difficult to get back into the game largely thanks to the performance of Spanish goalkeeper Darly Zoqbi.
At the other end, Marta López was the highest scorer with seven goals, followed by captain Carmen Martín with six and Nerea Pena with five.
The tournament in Llíria was one of three that took place to decide the final six places at the Olympics. Along with Spain and Sweden, Norway and Montenegro are also heading for Tokyo after securing qualification at an event in Podgorica in Montenegro. Hungary and Russia have also booked their tickets following an event in Györ in Hungary.
The International Handball Federation (IHF) will make the draws for both the male and female tournaments at the Olympics at a yet-to-be-decided date.