Russia are one of the most successful women’s handball teams, having won four World Championship titles and one Olympic gold medal, along with a string of other medals. The EHF EURO title however, is one that has eluded the squad, though they have qualified for every edition since the event’s inception in 1994.
They may not have won the title yet, but the EHF EURO was where Russia experienced their first notable success – bronze in Romania in 2000. That was the start of a dream decade, during which Russia won all four of their world titles, only missing one World Championship trophy from 2001 to 2009. They also collected two more EURO medals: silver in 2006 and bronze in 2008. Their first Olympic medal was in 2008, when they claimed silver. Eight years later, they went one better, celebrating Russia’s first medal in any women’s team sport at the Olympic Games.
Russia underwent extensive changes after the Olympic Games. Nevertheless, they can rely on a strong line-up including Olympic MVP Anna Vyakhireva and All-star centre back Daria Dmitrieva. The fact that both Vyakhireva and Dmitrieva are just 23 yet among the leaders of the team hints at Russia’s promising future.
Daria Dmitrieva started handball in her home city of Togliatti, before moving to Volgograd where she played for Dinamo-Sinara and won three Russian Super League titles. In 2015, Dmitrieva returned to Togliatti, signing with Lada. There, she won silver and bronze medals in the domestic competitions
On her way to being captain of the senior team, Dmitrieva played and enjoyed success with the Russia youth national squads. In 2011, she won the W17 EHF EURO and in 2013, claimed the trophy at the W19 EHF EURO. As a member of the senior team, Dmitrieva participated in the 2014 and 2016 EUROs and in the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.
In 2016, she played a key role as Russia won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio and was recognised as the All-star Team centre back. She became the Russia national team captain in 2017.
23-year-old Anna Vyakhireva is considered one of the most gifted players in Russian handball, and already has an impressive record to support that status. She can play as both right back and right wing. Her first coach was her father, Victor Vyakhirev, who taught her – a right hander – to play with her left hand.
Vyakhireva started her career with Zvezda and later moved to Astrakhanochka. She has played for Rostov-Don since 2016. Vyakhireva is a triple champion of the Russian Super League and has won the Russian Cup and Super Cup. In 2017, she won the EHF Cup, then made it to the FINAL4 the following season.
Previously, Vyakhireva won the W17 EHF EURO 2011 and W19 EHF EURO 2013. With the senior team, she took gold at the 2016 Olympic Games. Vyakhireva has been named MVP of several competitions, including the 2016 Olympics, Youth World Championship 2012 and W19 EHF EURO 2013.
The coach: Evgenii Trefilov
Russia coach Evgenii Trefilov is something of a handball icon, not only due to his achievements as a coach but also for his vocal style on the bench, which has made him quite a recognisable character.
Born in Bezlesniy, Krasnodar Krai, the 73-year-old began his coaching career in 1984, after playing for SKIF. Trefilov has coached the SKIF men’s team as well as several different women’s clubs in Russia, including Lada, Zvezda and Astrakhanochka. He was appointed head coach of Kuban in the summer of 2016. Trefilov has won the Russian Super League a total of seven times, as well as the Russian Cup, the Cup Winners’ Cup, the EHF Cup and the EHF Champions League.
His club record is impressive enough, but Trefilov was also responsible for Russia’s greatest achievements – the four world titles and the Olympic gold medal. He has received the title ‘Honoured coach of Russia’.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events