The Korean women’s handball team beat Japan 25-24 in a 2024 Paris Olympics qualifier on Wednesday, securing a spot in the Olympics for an 11th consecutive time.
The last qualifier game of the Asian Women’s Handball Qualification Tournament 2023 held in Hiroshima, Japan was crucial for both sides, as the winner would directly advance to the Games.
The game started with Japan leading 5-0 inside five minutes.
Korea attempted to bounce back and scored multiple goals, but ended the first half one goal down at 15-14.
Korea persisted in the second half and turned things around with captain Lee Mi-gyeong making it 19-18 in the 41st minute.
They rode that momentum through the second half and Ryu Eun-hee made it 25-24 in the final minute, winning the game for Korea and securing a Paris Olympics berth.
“I thought ‘it finally went in,” and I was so happy about it,” Ryu said after the game. “To be able to challenge in the Olympics makes me want to do better and I am looking forward to it.”
With Wednesday’s victory, Korea topped the table of the Asian qualifiers — in which five countries competed with a round-robin format from Aug. 17 through Wednesday — with four straight wins.
Japan finished second with three wins and one loss, with China coming in third, Kazakhstan fourth and India fifth.
As only the winner of the qualifiers advances to the Olympics, runners-up Japan now have to go through the Women’s Handball Olympic Qualification Tournament in April next year to earn a spot in the Games.
A total of 12 countries will compete at the Paris Olympics with four continental qualifier champions from Africa, Asia and Oceania and the Americas and Europe, in addition to six countries from the World Olympic Qualification Tournament, the 2023 World Women’s Handball Championship winner and host France joining the Games.
France, Norway and Korea are the only three countries that have secured a ticket as of Thursday.
Korea have played in every Olympics since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. They have have struggled to medal in recent years, however, most recently winning bronze at the 2008 Games.
Korea took gold in 1988 and 1992 and silver three times, in 1984, 1996 and 2004. They finished in eight place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The upcoming Paris Olympics is set to start on July 26 next year.
Source: Korean JoongAng Daily