Handball

USA Team Handball "thrilled" to make first World Champs in 20 years: "I got goosebumps"

USA Handball hail "tremendous moment" as they gear up for the January 2021 World Championships in Egypt

By Ken Browne ·

The United States handball team will play at their first World Championships since 2001, delighting handball fans across the country.

Egypt 2021 will give the USA a chance to measure themselves against the top teams in the world like Olympic and World champions Denmark, European champions Spain, and Lima 2019 Pan Am champs Argentina.

The U.S. was nominated to represent the North American and Caribbean region by the IHF Council after attempts to organise a qualification tournament were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic situation.

"After hearing that we are going to the World Championships, I got goosebumps like I did during the opening ceremony of the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru," team captain Ian Hüter told Olympic Channel.

"This news has been so exciting! Now is our chance to show Americans what a great and fun sport team handball is." - Ian Hüter

Great news for the team is also great news for the sport with many seeing the U.S. as a potential handball sleeping giant and USATH is making big plans for the Paris 2024 Olympics and, of course, the L.A. 2028 home Games.

"This is a tremendous moment for the growth of American handball," says USATH Communications Manager Melissa Zhang.

"We are absolutely thrilled for our athletes, who are going to have an unforgettable experience competing on the world stage and representing the United States, but simultaneously, I am also thrilled that this exposure will hopefully attract new fans and viewers of the sport for the first time."

USA Handball Egypt 2021 Roster

Now it's time to get to work, and first up is picking a 20-man squad.

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting any in-person evaluations, I have been constantly evaluating our players based on updates and video analysis," communicates Coach Robert Hedin.

The USA join Group E in Egypt where they'll face Norway, Austria and France.

Sander Sagosen's Norway are top seed, Austria is another string side, and France, while missing star man Nikola Karabatic through injury, always bring their A-game to tournament play.

“While this invitation to compete at the 2021 IHF Men’s World Championship comes after a long absence, our team will be prepared to compete in Egypt, but fully acknowledge we are in a difficult group,” said Zhang in a USATH statement to the IHF.

The Worlds will run from January 13-31 and the plan for the USA is to have a training camp in early January.

"This camp is absolutely critical for our team's preparation before the first match of the World Championship," insists Hedin, "while these plans have been very unique due to the pandemic, we are eager and excited to put a terrific U.S. team on the court."

While these Worlds might come a little too soon for the likes of rising teenage stars Tristan Morawski and Luke Bolte who play in some of Germany's top Acadamies like Flensburg-Handewitt, we will likely see USA stalwart Gary 'Hangtime' Hines, and Drew Donlin who plays club handball for Ademar Leon in Spain.

Donlin became the first North American player to score a goal in the ASOBAL league, Spain's premier professional handball league, in 2019.

USA's handball future

There has been plenty of good news for handball in the United States over the past couple of years, and in 2019 good results from the junior squads coming up promise much.

The appointment of three-time Swedish Olympic Medalist Staffan Olsson as USATH's High Performance Director was another positive move.

"We are working hard to share handball with more Americans and grow the sport at all levels, in these next seven years leading up to the LA 2028 Olympics," says Melissa Zhang.

"I am confident that Egypt 2021 will help our sport's momentum among American sports fans."