The French team was the first ever in men’s handball to hold this triple crown in 2010 after becoming Olympic champions (2008), World champions (2009) and European champions (2010).
The team under extremely experienced coach Claude Onesta, who took over in 2001, played a solid and consistent tournament and went to the gold medals undefeated.
Only a draw against Iceland in the group phase added a small stain on their otherwise perfectly clean vest.
Like so often before at major championships, though, Les Bleus were able to go full throttle as the tournament progressed and the going got tougher.
Their first half in their semi-final against Spain was a particularly impressive show of that physical, powerful and still elegant way of handball which characterises the French national team.
In the final they were more experienced and proved their hunger for success once more, but they had to give all to snatch one more gold medal.
It was “the usual suspects” who carried the French:Thierry Omeyer – who like team captain Jerome Fernandez is the first ever player decorated with four world championship gold medals – in goal had his great part in their success once again, and the same applied to Nikola Karabatic in the field. The absence of injured right wing Luc Abalo was never as hard felt as feared. Valentin Porte and Guillaume Joli filled out the space just fine, while the French defence reached its usual high level most of the time.
Some young players were integrated in the “golden generation” in the previous years – and Onesta and his assistant coach Didier Dinart managed to build a new generation without losing the dominant role.
“Now we go for gold in Rio”, was one of the first statements after winning gold in Doha. It would be the third straight Olympic gold medal after becoming the first nation to win Men’s World Championships for the fifth time, following success in 1995, 2001, 2009 and 2011.