Huge all over the world, but no so much in the UK, Handball
is a fast and thrilling team sport which promises to draw big crowds throughout the competition at London 2012
. Running virtually the entire duration of the Games, the Olympic Handball
competition gets underway with the preliminaries (and women's quarter-finals) at the new Handball Arena
on Saturday 28 July before the focus shifts to the bigger Basketball Arena
on Wednesday 8 August through to Sunday 12 August, during which the men's quarter-finals, all semi-finals and finals will be played. In short, teams of seven can pass or dribble a small leather ball with their hands with the object of scoring a goal - blending components of both football and basketball, but resulting in a frantic end-to-end game where it's not rare to see 50-odd goals a match. Some of the skill on display - such as mid-air twists, or the deft spinning of a ball around an opponent - is quite exhilarating to watch, and it's no surprise that Handball
is one of the most popular sports on the planet - bigger even than football in some countries. Introduced as an Olympic sport in 1936, Handball was dropped until 1972 but has since been ever-present in the Summer Games calendar.