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London 2012 Olympics qualifying: Handball

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GB men's captain Ciaran Williams looks ahead to 2012

How qualification works:

KEY DATES: HANDBALL
JANUARY 2011
Men's World Championships in Sweden
DECEMBER 2011
Women's World Championships in Brazil
APRIL/MAY 2012
Olympic qualifying tournaments (to be confirmed)

Handball's Olympic tournaments in 2012 will see 12 nations competing for gold in both the men's and women's events.

While the qualification procedure has yet to be confirmed by the International Handball Federation (IHF), it is expected to be broadly similar to the 2008 system for both men and women.

If that is the case, five places in each tournament will be awarded to the winners of the world and continental championships.

For men this means the 2012 European Championships in Serbia (January of that year), the 2011 Pan-American tournament in Mexico (October), the African Championships (expected to take place in early 2012), an Asian Olympic qualification tournament to be announced, and the 2011 World Championships in Sweden this January.

In women's handball, Euro 2010, to be held in Norway and Denmark this coming December, featured as the European Olympic qualifier and sent co-hosts Norway through.

It is anticipated that the Pan-American qualifier will be the same as the men's in Mexico in October 2011, with African and Asian qualifying dates to be confirmed. The 2011 World Championships are to be held in Brazil in December.

Six places in each Olympic tournament will then be filled by a series of separate Olympic qualifying events in the run-up to 2012, if the format used ahead of the Beijing Games of 2008 is preserved.

There is some suggestion that the IHF will alter the system used to fill the remaining places for the London Games, with dates for two main Olympic qualifying tournaments set aside in April (men) and May (women) of 2012. However, this is yet to be confirmed.

Britain, as the host, is expected to receive a berth in both the men's and women's events without the need to qualify.

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How are British competitors doing?

Britain is undeniably a minnow in the world of international handball, with a full elite programme only recently initiated in order to ensure the hosts field competitive sides on home soil.

The GB men registered their first victory in a competitive tie when they beat Bulgaria in a Euro 2012 qualifier at Crystal Palace in the summer of 2010, while the women have made slightly better progress.

Neither side has much realistic hope of a medal in 2012.



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