Look at those Croats celebrate!
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.
Hey up. So you're still reading then? This is good, Thanks. Tis a strange atmosphere in Athens today, but definitely not a sad one. Like the morning after the good party when it's over but you all know you had a really good time.
Anyway, as I said yesterday, the men's handball final turned out to be way more exciting than we thought it would be. It was Germany v Croatia (a repeat of last year's world championship final, apparently) and the atmosphere in the packed 11,000 capacity arena was just astonishing - quite possibly the best we've seen. There was an even split of Germans and Croats - thousands of each - and they were singing their hearts out long before the game began. It was almost as if everyone wanted to make the most of their last event by putting every last ounce of energy into supporting their team. Seriously, the place was vibrating.
The sport itself was exciting too. Pretty much like water polo without the water (or the silly hats), it's a mix of basketball, football and hockey - an extremely fast and furious game with plenty of goals. Contrary to all the reports I've read which (incorrectly) say Croatia were 10 goals down at half time, the first half was very close and the Croats went into the break a couple of goals behind (12-10 I think). But they fought hard in the second half and, to scenes of unbridled joy from their passionate fans, they claimed the gold 26-24.
It was a really great way to finish our Olympic adventure - an exciting, close game played in front of a fantastically fervent crowd in a packed, sold out arena - everything you'd hope for from an Olympic final (and a bargain at 30 Euros). As with water polo, I'd definitely go and see handball again. In fact, I'm thinking of getting in training and trying to make my way into the GB team. That way I'll get a free ticket/accommodation to Beijing in 2008 and we can do the Blog all over again (inbetween winning the gold, of course). Hey, you can't blame a man for dreaming...