By Yuri Kovalev
The main Olympic ‘game’ hope of our country has been dashed, as Anatoly Buyalsky’s trainees have failed to go through to the 2012 Games. Despite a solid performance in recent times — winning European Championship bronze, fourth place at the World Championship and sixth place at the Beijing Games — the squad has lost to Lithuania (50:68) and Turkey (56:65) during vital matches at the European Championship’s second group stage. Players and fans were anticipating victory in Poland, especially after our girls’ beautiful win over tournament favourite Russia (62:51). Lithuania and Turkey were seen as weaker rivals, so defeat was quite unexpected.
The lost games are yet to be scrutinised but poorly realised opportunities, inaccurate long throws and lost balls seem to blame. Moreover, the team was lacking an obvious leader to inspire and guide them. Sadly, a new line-up will be needed for the selective rounds for the 2016 Olympics, to be hosted by Rio de Janeiro. Spain — viewed as a favourite — also lost its chance to take part in the coming Olympics during the Poland matches.