By Tom Pilcher
LONDON (Reuters) - France became the first men's handball team to defend their Olympic title when their 22-21 win consigned Sweden to a fourth Games final defeat on Sunday.
It was France's second triumph having first clinched the title in Beijing four years ago and their third Olympic medal after bagging bronze in 1992.
The Swedes, who were competing in their first Games since 2000 when they finished second for a third straight Olympics, had no answer to the world champions' superiority in all departments throughout the encounter.
Former world player of the year Thierry Omeyer, the matchwinner in the semi-final against eventual bronze medalists Croatia, was again on form in goal producing a string of saves to frustrate Sweden.
France had also beaten Sweden 29-26 in the group stages and although the final was similarly close, the gold medalists stayed ahead once they crept into the lead in the first half thanks to a series of coolly converted penalties by Michael Guigou.
Guigou top-scored for France with five goals while Sweden's Niclas Ekberg's six strikes lifted him one above Croatian Ivan Cupic as tournament golden arm with 50 goals.
Croatia coasted to a 33-26 victory over a fatigued Hungary in the bronze medal match, Cupic netting eight goals.
(Edited by Mark Meadows)
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