Russia enter the Women's EHF EURO 2016 as the reigning Olympic champions. The team beat 2008 and 2012 winners Norway after extra time in the semi-final and eventually won gold with a victory against France in the final.
This might very well be a sign of Russia returning back to former strength. They were, alongside Norway, from 2001 to 2009 the dominant team in the world of women’s handball. In that era they won four World Championship titles (2001, 2005, 2007 and 2009) and an Olympic silver medal in 2008. But at the European Championships, Russia never secured a title; the biggest EHF EURO success came in 2006 when the team won silver.
Russia's recent rise to Olympic glory is even more remarkable, as the last few years have not been marked by success at all. In 2013, for the first time in their history, they failed to qualify for a World Championship, one year later they did not make it to the main round at the EHF EURO 2014. Even Evgeny Trefilov, who had been coaching the team from 1999 to 2012 and was reinstalled in the autumn of 2013, seemed not be able to bring back the ultimate success, but the Russian federation kept its faith in him.
Trefilov started a huge transition in his team, giving the responsibility to young players from Russia's successful youth programmes and this has started to pay off. At the Women's World Championship 2015 Russia reached the quarter-final and their campaign en route to the EHF EURO 2016 was a flawless - they won all their six matches. And a mere two months after the final qualifier, Russia conquered the very top of the Olympic podium.
Daria Dmitrieva was already a part of Russia's under 17 and under 19 teams that won the EHF EURO events in 2011 and 2013. In 2014, she was the youngest member by five years in the Russian team at the Women's EHF EURO which did not stop her becoming the top scorer in Russia's opening game against Hungary. It was a sign of what was there to come. In the 2014/15 season her 76 goals played a huge part in Dinamo-Sinara reaching the Women's EHF FINAL4 in Budapest. And just another year later she won gold with Russia at the 2016 Olympic Games and was awarded the tournament's All-star centre back.
Just like Daria Dmitrieva, Ana Vyakhireva's star began to shine early on and she was already seen as one of the standout players during Russia's golden runs at the Women's 17 EHF EURO 2011 and the Women's 19 EHF EURO 2013. In the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons she played for Astrakhanochka in Russia and won the domestic league in 2016. She has now joined Rostov-Don with which she takes to the court in the Women's EHF Champions League. On the national team level, she was the star player in the Russian squad at the Rio Olympics. At the end of the tournament she had not only won gold but was also named MVP. Her sister is Russian international Polina Kuznetsova.
Evgenii Trefilov started his handball coaching career in 1984, working mostly with men's teams at this stage. As an assistant coach he won the Men's World Championship 1997, but it was soon after that he started to work with the Lada women's handball team and in 1999 he became the women's national team coach as well.
Success followed him and he immediately won bronze at the EHF EURO 2000. What followed was an impressive run at World Championships, with Russia winning gold at the 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2009 events. In between the team also won silver at the EHF EURO 2006 and the 2008 Olympic Games.
After that it seemed Russia's streak success had come to an end. No more medals were won and Trefilov's time at the helm came to an end after the 2012 Olympics. Vitaly Krokhin took over, but he was replaced just a year later - by Trefilov again. While Russia already bowed after the preliminary round at the EHF EURO 2014 under Trefilov's new reign, it was only 20 months later that they won gold at the 2016 Olympics. Hence right now, the only tournament Trefilov has not won is the EHF EURO.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events