Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Copper Box, Olympic Park, Stratford, London
Date Started: July 28, 2012
Date Finished: August 11, 2012
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to classification matches.
Apart from the fact that host nation Great Britain was granted a place in the competition, the field at the Olympics could be considered the strongest possible. The other eleven nations had ranked 1 through 11 at the 2011 World Championships in Brazil. Winner there had been Norway, which were also the reigning Olympic and European champions, and expected to do well again in London.
But the Norwegian women struggled in the group stage. They lost to France and Spain (respectively silver and bronze medallists at the last World Championships), tied South Korea, only qualifying for the quarter-finals in fourth place. The other pool saw Brazil (5th at the last Worlds) in the lead - despite a loss to Russia - followed by Croatia, Russia and Montenegro. In the quarter-finals, Norway regained its former strength and put the Brazilians aside 21-19. The real story of that day, however, was the match between France and Montenegro. The score was level at 22-22 when Camille Ayglon fouled Majda Mehmedović with just 2 seconds left to place. Katarina Bulatović converted the penalty shot to send the Montenegrins into the semis. Spain was the next opponent of the tiny nation (625,000 inhabitants). With a four-point lead in the second half, things were not quite as close this time, although the Spanish came to within one point at the final whistle.
In the final, Montenegro encountered Norway, which had beaten South Korea with relative ease (31-25). The Montenegrin women gave the defending Olympic champions a stiff challenge, and with 9 minutes to go, the score was 20-20. The Norwegians then pushed on, aided by a suspension of Bulatović, to open up a three point gap: 26-23. For the fifth time in ten tournaments, the reigning Olympic champion defended its title. Montenegro won its first ever Olympic medal in a team sport, while third place was taken by Spain - their first in the women's event - after two-overtimes against South Korea.
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