By Alexandra Ulmer
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Russia won its first Olympic gold in women's handball on Saturday, overcoming France 22-19 in a tight, fast-paced final in front of a rapturous crowd.
The Russians dominated by several points during much of the game, although the French roared back in the middle of the second half to equalize 14-14, before again losing their lead.
Rio's almost-full Future Arena alternated between shouts of "Russia!" and "Les Bleus!" from the French supporters, one of whom was dressed up as red-headed Asterix from the "Asterix and Obelix" comic book.
When the final whistle was blown, Russian players fell to the floor and embraced, while the disappointed French walked off, some whipping away tears.
Earlier on Saturday, defending champions Norway found some solace for not making it to the final by overpowering orange-clad Netherlands to take bronze.
(Editing by Nina Chestney)