32 players and one coach bring a taste of Rio to CologneArticle
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NEWS FEATURE: Kielce have 11 potential Olympians in their VELUX EHF FINAL4 squad, while the Kiel and PSG rosters each hold nine.

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32 players and one coach bring a taste of Rio to Cologne

Big teams such as Spain, Iceland and Hungary, not to mention names like Croatian goalkeeper Mirko Alilovic, will not be part of the Olympic handball tournament – but the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2016 in Cologne will nevertheless be a melting pot of Olympians.

33 players from MVM Veszprém, KS Vive Tauron Kielce, THW Kiel and Paris Saint-Germain Handball are set to be part of their yet-to-be-named national team squads at the Olympic Games from 6 to 21 August.

PSG’s roster is almost identical to that of the French national team, Kielce squad forms a large part of the Poland side, and even Kiel have an unusually high number of Germans at present.

As Hungary, Spain, Serbia and Iceland did not qualify for Rio, Veszprém have the lowest number of potential Olympians in their squad, with only three.

Four of PSG’s Frenchmen are aiming to make their dream of triple Olympic gold come true: Thierry Omeyer, Nikola Karabatic, Luc Abalo and Daniel Narcisse.


Paris could have claimed another gold medallist in their start list, but former Croatia captain Igor Vori, who was part of the 2004 gold medal-winning team, is no longer named in the national squad. Renato Sulic (Veszprém) and Ilja Brozovic (Kiel) have taken his place.  

Xavier Barachet, William Accambray and Samuel Honrubia were in Claude Onesta’s squad that won gold at London 2012, when they played Kiel right wing Niclas Ekberg in the Swedish jersey.

Ekberg was top scorer at the 2012 Olympic handball tournament, netting 50 times. His club teammate Domagoj Duvnjak was bronze medallist with Croatia at the same Games – together with Kielce’s Denis Buntic and Ivan Cupic.

Two Slovenians, who were in the national side that eliminated Spain in the Olympic qualification tournaments in April, will also be on court at Cologne: Gasper Marguc (Veszprém) and Uros Zorman (Kielce).

EHF EURO 2016 champions Germany will be represented in Cologne by their top scorer and All-Star right wing Tobias Reichmann (Kielce), as well as the THW quartet of Patrick Wiencek, Rune Dahmke, Christian Dissinger and Steffen Weinhold.

Funnily enough, of Kiel’s four Germans, only youngster Dahmke played the final against Spain as the remaining three were all injured.

Kiel line player Rene Toft Hansen shared their fate when he was ruled out of the EURO, but he hopes to recover from his torn ACL quick enough to be on court in Rio.

Toft Hansen will definitely miss the VELUX EHF FINAL4 – so Denmark will only be represented by goalkeeper Niklas Landin (Kiel) and PSG duo Henrik Möllgaard and Mikkel Hansen in Cologne.

Six of the eleven potential Olympians from Kielce wear the Polish jersey – and they will be accompanied by their club coach Talant Dujshebaev when they travel to Rio, as he has been Polish national team coach since March.

In contrast with World Championships and EURO events, coaches may only name 14 players in their Olympic squads. The following are the players likely to be included in their national team side at Rio 2016:

THW Kiel (9):
Ilja Brozovic (CRO)
Rune Dahmke (GER)
Christian Dissinger (GER)
Domagoj Duvnjak (CRO)
Niclas Ekberg (SWE)
Niklas Landin (DEN)
Rene Toft-Hansen (DEN)
Patrick Wiencek (GER)
Steffen Weinhold (GER)

MVM Veszprém (3):
Andreas Nilsson (SWE)
Gasper Marguc (SLO)
Ivan Sliskovic (CRO)

KS Vive Tauron Kielce (11+1):
Karol Bielecki (POL)
Michal Jurecki (POL)
Slawomir Szmal (POL)
Krzysztof Lijewski (POL)
Mariusz Jurkiewicz (POL)
Piotr Chrapkowski (POL)
Tobias Reichmann (GER)
Uros Zorman (SLO)
Ivan Cupic (CRO)
Manuel Strlek (CRO)
Denis Buntic (CRO)
Talant Dujshebaev (coach POL)

Paris Saint-Germain Handball (9):
Thierry Omeyer (FRA)
Nikola Karabatic (FRA)
Daniel Narcisse (FRA)
Luka Karabatic (FRA)
William Accambray (FRA)
Luc Abalo (FRA)
Samuel Honrubia (FRA)
Mikkel Hansen (DEN)
Henrik Möllgaard (DEN)

TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / cg