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U.S. Victory Ends a 12-Year Drought

August 01, 1996|Times Wire Services

For the first time in 12 years, the U.S. men's handball team knows what if feels like to win at the Games.

Dave DeGraaf scored 13 goals as the Americans beat Kuwait, 29-24, to complete pool play with a 1-4 record. Kuwait finished 0-5.

The U.S. team had last won an Olympic game in 1984. The Americans were 0-6 in the Seoul Games and didn't qualify in '92.

"This was huge, 12 years in coming," U.S. Coach Rick Oleksyk said. "Getting the ball to Dave was our basic game plan. He matches up well against Kuwait because of his size."

The U.S. team plays its final match Friday against Algeria for ninth place.

"Right now, our goal is to finish in ninth place. It's going to be a challenge. Algeria beat us, 26-22, in Hungary in May."

In other action, Sweden defeated previously unbeaten Croatia, 27-18, to win Pool A and France, which had clinched Pool B, lost to Germany, 24-23. Spain earned a 20-19 victory over Egypt and a berth in the medal round and Russia advanced to the fifth-place game by beating Switzerland, 30-23.

Sweden will face Pool B runner-up Spain in Friday's semifinals. Croatia will meet France. The winners meet Sunday for the gold medal.

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