Norway has arrived in Rio de Janeiro as the defender of the Olympic title, twice in a row, after they managed to win in Bejing 2008 and London 2012. In Norway the public opinion expects from this team to win another gold medal . They are one of the most popular athletes will participate at the OG.
After the OG in London, the team won the silver medals at EURO 2012, they lost against Montenegro, the Olympic silver medalist. In 2013 they had some changes in their team, at WCh in Serbia the team has not managed to qualify for the semifinals, but the sacrifice was worth. One year later a younger team, which already gained some experience too, managed to become European Champions than Norway took back the throne at WCh 2015 as well. This team was already a totally new one, built on the generation of 1990-girls such Nora Mørk, Veronica Kristiansen, Stine Bredal Oftedal, the Solberg-twins, Mari Molid or Amanda Kurtovic. Most of them will also represent Norway in Rio 2016 too. Of course, the perfection of this team is given by the experience of players like Katrine Lunde, Kari Aalvik Grimsbø, Heidi Løke, Camilla Herrem, Ida Alstad or recently returned Marit Malm Frafjord. They make a quality mix together with the younger generation and the professionalism in every aspect of the sport (mentality, physical preparation, continuity, nutrition) secures them the way to success.
The trainer staff had to struggle with some injury issues as well: Stine Skogrand was injured in the last part of the season (she will be a reserve in Rio), and Linn Jørum Sulland got injured in the summer training camp in Portugal, she will not be able to play in Rio. In addition, Heidi Løke got a muscle strain before the last preparation match in Ulsteinvik, she was forced for a shorter break, but she is ready for the start. Initially, Thorir Hergeirsson had the idea to use only one line player, Løke in Rio and Mari Molid could give her time of rest when needed. After the injuries, they have decided to get Frafjord also into the squad as the second line player.
The squad from London has gone through major changes, only seven players are in Rio: Katrine Lunde, Kari Aalvik Grimsbø, Linn Kristin Riegelhuth Koren, Heidi Løke, Camilla Herrem, Amanda Kurtovic, Marit Malm Frafjord.
Preparation matches before OG at Ulstein Cup: Norway won at big difference against Romania, lost slightly in front of Spain and defeated France in a close race.
The INITIAL SQUAD of Norway can be seen here. Sulland has been set out because of her injury and Marit Malm Frafjord was named as the fourteenth player.
Key players: Kari Aalvik Grimsbø/Katrien Lunde-goalkeepers, Heidi Løke-lineplayer, Nora Mørk-rightback
Absentees: Linn Jørum Sulland (rightback)-knee injury, Bettina Riegelhuth (leftback)-not selected, Linn Gosse (leftwing)-not selected
Chances: everybody is looking to Norway as gold-favourites, but already the group phase could be challenging for Løke and company. Norway is known as a team which gradually improves during championships, at the OG they have to reach their top shape from the very first games, in order to be able to qualify. Their opening game will be against hosts, eager to win on home court.
Prediction: they will qualify from the group-phase and go all the way to the final. Will win another medal for sure.