Norway have been the leading force in women’s handball for the last decade. Their record in all competitions is outstanding, but their EHF EURO history is unrivalled. Norway hold the record for most trophies won, with seven – including four consecutive titles from 2004 to 2010, and the two most recently contested. They have raised three World Championship trophies and collected two Olympic titles, along with 15 silver and bronze medals at the major competitions.
After winning their third World Championship in 2015, Norway suffered a minor setback, losing a thrilling extra-time semi-final at the 2016 Olympic Games to eventual champions Russia. That defeat meant they could not defend the Olympic gold won in 2008 and 2012. At the EHF EURO 2016, coach Thorir Hergeirsson’s team struck back, winning their seventh EHF EURO title by beating the Netherlands in the final – a success that was followed by their silver-medal performance at the Women’s World Championship 2017.
Norway’s EURO hopes hit an obstacle in October, with an injury to Nora Mørk, perennial All-star right back and top scorer of the 2016 Olympics, the EURO 2016 and the World Championship 2017 – to name just a few of her individual achievements.
STINE BREDAL OFTEDAL
As team captain and centre back, Stine Bredal Oftedal is a leader for Norway in every sense. The 27-year-old has represented Norway since 2010, winning two world titles and three EHF EUROs, plus one World Championship and one EURO silver, and an Olympic bronze in 2016. Her national team achievements made her one of the highest profile players in women’s handball, but she was a little quieter on the club scene, only debuting in the Champions League in 2017/18.
After playing for Norwegian clubs Helset IF and Stabaek IF, Oftedal moved to Issy Paris in 2013. In 2017 she transferred to Györi Audi ETO KC, where she plays along fellow Norwegian internationals Nora Mørk, Kari Aalvik Grimsbø and now Veronica Kristiansen. Györ won the Champions League in Oftedal’s first season with the Hungarian powerhouse, making her collection of major titles all but complete – all that is missing is Olympic gold.
The Norway team is brimming with talented players, but Heidi Loke is one who will be remembered long after she leaves the court. At 35, Loke’s last matches for Norway seem to be on the horizon – for now however, handball fans can still enjoy the athleticism, tactics and reliability of the line player. Loke missed the last EHF EURO due to pregnancy, so the Norway squad will be pleased to have her back, as she can catch anything thrown near her and hardly ever misses a shot.
Loke’s collection of titles is complete: she has won the Olympic Games, the World Championship (twice) and the EHF EURO (three times), as well as the Champions League (four times). She has been named in the EHF EURO, World Championship, Olympic Games and Champions League All-star Teams – at least twice in each. In 2011, Loke was named IHF World Handball Player of the Year.
The coach: Thorir Hergeirsson
It has been almost 10 years since Thorir Hergeirsson stepped up from assistant coach to legendary Marit Breivik to begin his reign of success. Hergeirsson became head coach in April 2009, and has since led Norway to three EHF EURO titles, two World Championship trophies and one Olympic gold medal. Aside from the titles, Norway also took an Olympic bronze, a World Championship silve and a EURO silver under Hergeirsson’s leadership.
Icelandic-born Hergeirsson started coaching early, helping with youth teams in his local club when he was still a teenager. He moved to Oslo to study in his early 20s, and it was there that his career took off – first with club teams then with the young national squad on invitation from Breivik in 1994. From there, Hergeirsson joined Breivik on the senior bench, and the rest is history. In 2017, he was made a Knight 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events