Faroese handball player Jóhan á Plógv Hansen made history on August 5th, when he, as a member of Denmark’s national team, secured himself a spot in the Olympic final, becoming the first Faroese male athlete to win an Olympic medal.
“I’m incredibly proud,” á Plógv Hansen told public broadcaster KvF after having won the semi-final against Spain. “When I was 15 years old, living and playing handball in Tórshavn, it wasn’t exactly in the cards that I’d be playing in an Olympic final in 2021. I never dreamed of playing such a big match.”
The 27-year-old handballer previously represented the Faroese national team but decided to change his nationality in order to play for the Danish team in 2013. This resulted in a two-year suspension from international handball, with á Plógv Hansen having his debut for the Danish national team in 2015.
When not engaged in the national team of Denmark, á Plógv Hansen plays for German handball club TSV Hannover-Burgdorf.
The men’s handball team of Denmark won gold in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The team also won the World Men’s Handball Championship in both 2019 and 2021. In the Olympic final on Saturday, however, Denmark lost against France, failing to secure a back-to-back Olympic victory yet, of course, still winning silver.
Á Plógv Hansen added that just participating in the Olympics was the greatest thing he’d ever experienced in his career.
While á Plógv Hansen is the first Faroese male athlete to win an Olympic medal, he is not the first Faroese athlete to do so. In 1996, Anja Byrial Hansen, representing the Danish national women’s team, won a gold medal at the Olympics in Atlanta.
While never having played for a Faroese team, been born and raised in Denmark, Byrial Hansen still considers herself Faroese, with a Faroese mother and a half-Faroese father. Her brother, Johan Byrial Hansen, however, did play for the Faroese national football team in the years 2000 – 2005.