“I know this is my last competition as a professional although I try not to think about it.” Raúl Entrerríos does not want to think about his retirement. Although Tokyo is presented as the last great dance, for him and for one of the best generations in the history of Spanish handball.
“When you see the number of internationals and the age of the players in this group, you realize that for many of us these will be the last Games“, Antonio García, one of the novelties of the Spanish team, runs for EL PERIÓDICO. The La Llagosta player returns to the Spanish team after a spectacular campaign under the command of BM Granollers. And although the coach’s call came by surprise, he is clear what lies ahead. “After missing Rio to elimination in the pre-Olympic and London to injury, this is a dream come true.” Handball has given Antonio back what he owed him.
Also to a whole group that with the pandemic has seen its Olympic curse lengthen. They have won everything, they are feared, but they have one thing left: to savor the Olympic glory. Hence, Raúl Entrerríos, the captain, decided to extend his career for another year after the suspension of Tokyo 2020. Hence, perhaps, the return of Antonio García and Julen Aginagalde to a group from which Joan Cañellas has surprisingly fallen. The Catalan left the concentration before the Games due to an injury and, despite being recovered and training with his team, he has not received the call from Jordi Ribera again.
With him or without, Spain arrives in Tokyo as the rival to beat. “We have been favorites for more than a decade and that has to excite us and make us play calmly. We know that showing our best level we will be able to return home with a metal in our neck,” says Antonio García, remembering that they have no pressure, rather “responsibility and illusion”. Responsibility for keeping the bar from where it has almost never been lowered and enthusiasm for closing the cycle with a historic triumph. “With the group’s baggage and the large number of medals in recent years, Tokyo can seem like ‘The last dance’. These Games are a very nice option to put an end to the sports careers of many of us and we are going to fight with everything to achieve something historic. ”
Never in a final
Something like gold. Something that the current European champion and World bronze resists. Because Spain has never passed the third Olympic place and he knows that starting in a complicated group like the current one, the difficulty will be reduced from the quarters, where more than one favorite will have been removed.
Of course, the road does not seem easy. The Hispanics, who make their debut against the German team on Saturday (9.25 Spanish time), will face Germany, Norway, France, Brazil and Argentina in a first phase in which the first four qualify for the quarterfinals.
The debut, a priori, should not be complicated for the national team, as Germany, despite recovering Uwe Gensheimer, comes at its worst. The rivals to beat look like Norway and France. The Nordics have achieved two world silver and one European bronze in recent years and arrive in Tokyo in search of their first Olympic medal while the French want their fifth. With Karabatic recovered there is no one who discards ‘Les Experts’ to occupy the throne. The Brazil of the azulgranas Haniel Langaro and Thiagus Petrus and the Argentina of the Simeonet arrive to show that they are a real alternative to the European powers.
The group is complicated, but the road to Tokyo has been more so. And with all obstacles knocked down, Hispanics are ready for one last gold-plated dance.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.