Olympic Champion Denmark adds first world title to qualify for Tokyo 2020
Tokyo 2020, here they come!
Reigning Olympic handball champions Denmark romped to their maiden world championship in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
The Danes overpowered their Scandinavian rivals Norway in the lop-sided final 31-22 to clinch victory and earn automatic qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Danish superstar Mikkel Hansen, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"I can't describe my emotions. I am close to crying and on the other hand I am super proud of my team," said Denmark's coach Nikolaj Jacobsen.
The Copenhagen Post nicknamed his team "The Invincibles" as the Danes went undefeated in their 10 games. This title also means that Denmark has become the first nation to win all six major international tournaments (men and women).
A prefect 10 performance
A capacity 15,000 fans filled the Jyske Bank Boxen Arena in Herning for the final between two countries vying for their maiden title.
It was Denmark's fourth shot at glory, having previously finished as runners-up in 1967, 2011 and 2013.
Norway meanwhile were looking to capitalise on their second-consecutive final having come home second behind France in 2017.
Roared on by the crowd, the Danes cruised to a 18-11 halftime lead with backcourt shooters Rasmus Lauge, Hansen and Mads Mensah Larsen scoring 10 goals between them in the opening 30 minutes.
Norway tried hard to stay in contention with Magnus Jondal scoring nine goals from 11 shots,. But his valiant individual performance was no match for a Danish side fired up by the home crowd.
The Danes increased their advantage in the second half with Hansen scoring seven goals to finish as the tournament's top scorer (73 goals) as they sealed their tenth victory from ten games.
"Nobody was even close to beating us in this tournament, so I think the title is very well-deserved!" - Nikolaj Markussen, Danish left back
The gold rush continues
The victory completes the Danish handball dream as they bring home the only title that had eluded them thus far.
Having won the European championships in 2008, the country which boasts inventing the sport 100 year ago sport finally won their maiden Olympic gold at Rio 2016.
They now add a world title to their list of achievements which also earns them automatic qualification for the next Olympic Games.
With none of the current players expressing any desire to retire before 2020, the exact same team is likely to defend the title in Tokyo. The Danish world championship squad featured ten Rio champions.
For now though, the team can relish in their victory and celebrate their accomplishment in the traditional Danish way - eating pancakes at the city hall in Copenhagen.