Handball: Montenegro secure first Olympic medal
LONDON (Reuters) - Olympic handball debutants Montenegro beat Spain 27-26 on Thursday to set up a final against reigning women's champions Norway and guarantee the tiny Balkan country its first Games medal.
Montenegro, only officially recognized as an Olympic nation in 2007 and now also with a chance to win their first gold medal, edged ahead in the second-half and will contest the final on Saturday.
The Montenegrin men's water-polo team are in action in the semi-finals on Friday and coach Dragan Adzic, shaking his head in disbelief at his players' feat, said they would "absolutely" go and support their compatriots.
"It's amazing this success for a country of 600,000 people. It's historic, something we'll never forget," he said through an interpreter after his players had been showering each other with water in celebration. "There are only 100 female players in our country," he joked.
If he is right they are some players, tournament top scorer Katarina Bulatovic the pick of the lot on a warm summer's evening, the tall Montenegrin firing in nine goals with awesome power.
The last encounter between the sides in a 2011 world championships quarter-final was shaded by Spain and this time the winner was anyone's guess midway through the second half, neither team having established more than a two-goal lead.
However two Bulatovic goals and three others in between an eight-minute goalless spell for Spain ultimately turned the game.
Bulatovic glossed over her crucial role in the team's win, saying their defense would be more crucial against Norway.
"I don't care about my goals. For me it's important the whole team plays well and that's it," she said, also struggling for words after the accomplishment.
Spain, seeking a first women's handball medal, will play South Korea for the bronze.
(Reporting by Tom Pilcher; Editing by Michael Holden)
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