Bahrain’s men’s handball team brings pride to the Kingdom

©  Bahrain Olympic Committee
© Bahrain Olympic Committee

Tokyo, Japan, August 3, 2021: Bahrain’s roller-coaster ride in the men’s handball event of Tokyo 2020 came to a halt on Tuesday when they were beaten 42-28 to France in the quarter-finals.

The two-time Olympic champions won each half 21-14 to move into the semi-finals where they will play Egypt on Thursday. Spain will meet Denmark in the second semi-final.

Nevertheless, it has been a magnificent run by Bahrain – not only becoming the first team sport from the Kingdom to qualify for the Olympic Games but then by booking a place in the quarter-finals from their six-team preliminary group.

Their swashbuckling exploits have brought pride to the Kingdom and resulted in high praise – with the players receiving a message of congratulations from His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

This greeting was conveyed to the players by the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports (SCYS) First Deputy Chairman, Head of the General Sports Authority (GSA) and Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC) President, His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, during a phone call.

HH Sheikh Khalid praised the team’s impressive performance during its historic participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and issued directives to disburse cash bonuses to the players for their achievements.

The players expressed deepest thanks and gratitude to HH Sheikh Khalid for his unwavering support of the team.

Sheikh Khalid said: “We are very proud of the outstanding levels of our handball heroes during this historic participation in the Olympic handball competition. 

“We are happy that the national team has reached this stage of the competition. This is a new achievement for Bahraini handball, which has always brought honour to the Kingdom of Bahrain and has been able to fly the Bahraini flag high in continental and international championships.”

Drawn in Group B of the 12-team tournament, Bahrain opened with a 32-31 defeat at the hands of Sweden on July 24 and followed up with a second successive one-point loss, 26-25 to Portugal.

Rio 2016 champions Denmark beat Bahrain 31-21 in the third Group B match to extend Bahrain’s win-loss record to 0-3 – but they showed remarkable resilience and spirit to bounce back and defeat host nation Japan 32-30 in another close encounter at Yoyogi National Stadium to record their first victory of the Games.

Even though Bahrain lost their final Group B game to Egypt 30-20, they still managed to finish fourth in the table and qualify for the quarter-finals on goal difference against the two other teams with two points – Portugal and Japan.

This brought them their date with France – and the end of their memorable journey as the Olympic champions from 2008 and 2012 proved just too strong.