Rio shows off home advantage in women’s handball opener

The host country taking on the two-time defending gold medalist to kick off women’s handball competition in the Olympic Games.
What more could you ask for?
The Future Arena stands were painted with gold Rio de Janeiro team jerseys Saturday as the home crowdcheered its team to a 31-28 victory over Norway in Preliminary Group A. The win proved that opposingcountries will have a hard time beating the Brazilians in their own territory.
“We’re happy, and everybody is rooting and cheering,” said Pedro Barros, a Rio native who attended thematch. “The sounds, the noise and the emotions play into all of it. And everything is greater when youplay at home, in any sport.”
The Brazilian crowd had to wait a little longer than anticipated to root on its beloved handball team.
A large crowd of spectators had to deal with a long, wrapping line to get through security and ticketcheck, only to enter the arena with Brazil leading Norway 17-16 at the half.
Barros said as great as the Opening Ceremony was on Friday night, the hold-up to get into the venuesneeds to be addressed for the remainder of the Games.
“Today was totally a mess,” he added. “The gates opened almost at the start of the games. Today, for thefirst day, they have a huge learning curve. I hope that tomorrow and on will be great.”
The crowd didn’t waste any time when it got in the seats. Chants of “Bra-Sil” broke out less than a minute into the second half as Ana Paulo Rodrigues Belo (12 goals) helped Brazil pull away from the defending champion.
Fans cheered and Brazilian flags went flying whenever they would fight through Norway’s physicality to score a goal or stop them at the goal on defense.
Many handball fanatics, including Vidar Aas of Norway, consider them to be the two best teams in the world. Aas and his wife bought tickets for all the handball matches, given that Norway is small and doesn’t have as much success in other sports.
“Unfortunately we lost, but we will be stronger later in the tournament,” Aas said. “It was a great atmosphere. It was nice and so enthusiastic. I guess we will meet them in the final again.”
If the opening match between Brazil and Norway was any indication, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see theteams meet again for a gold medal.
The women’s handball gold medal match isn’t until Aug. 20. But you would have thought Brazil wasplaying for gold if you stepped into the packed Future Arena on Saturday.
“I wanted to be happy when I came to the Games, and now I have had three to four beers, and my people are happy,” said Rafael Ruessia, a fan of Brazil from Rio. “This is exactly what I wanted when I heard theGames were coming to Rio.”
Jake Fox is a Ball State University student and writer for BSU at the Games, a group of 50 journalism students traveling from Muncie, Indiana, to Rio for the Olympic Games. Follow them, @bsuatthegames on Twitter and Instagram, and BSU at the Games on Facebook.
Jake Fox

I'm Jake. A reporter and writer at heart, but I'm always willing to learn new things. Lover of sports and social media who's always striving for improvement. Everybody has a story. Tell me yours, and I'll put it into words.

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