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U.S. men’s handball team wins first world championship game in 26th try

Ian Hueter Handball

LIMA, PERU - AUGUST 02: Ian Hueter of United States competes during the Handball Men’s Preliminary Round - Group A on Day 7 of Lima 2019 Pan American Games at Sports Center 1 of Villa Deportiva Nacional on August 2, 2019 in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

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The U.S. men’s handball team won a world championship match for the first time in program history after 25 consecutive losses dating to 1964, beating Morocco in its opener in Jönköping, Sweden, on Friday.

The Americans, playing at worlds for the first time since 2001, edged the African bronze medalists 28-27.

The U.S. next gets two stronger teams, Croatia on Sunday and Egypt on Tuesday, but the win over Morocco puts it in good position to advance out of the four-team group in the 32-team field to the second stage of group matches.

The U.S. roster includes a U.S. Space Force officer (Drew Donlin), an American Ninja Warrior competitor (Gary Hines) and Ty Reed, a walk-on quarterback for Alabama’s 2012 national title team.

The U.S. has zero Olympic handball medals and an 8-39-1 record in Olympic men’s and women’s play. It hasn’t qualified a men’s or women’s handball team for the Games since it hosted in Atlanta in 1996. It lost to Greenland at the Pan American Championship in 2014 and 2016.

The U.S. is unlikely to qualify for the 2024 Paris Games. A bid goes to the winner of the Pan American Games next fall in Chile, where the field should include Argentina, which won multiple matches at every biennial world championship dating to 2007.

The U.S. hopes to ramp up for Los Angeles 2028, when it should receive automatic spots in the men’s and women’s tournaments as host nation.

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