“Eees-laand! Eees-laand! Eees-laand!”

Iceland, the smattering of fans were chanting Sunday morning in heavy Nordic accents, as the Icelandic handball team put the finishing touches on its 31-25 win over Argentina in the opening game of the Olympic tournament. After the final horn sounded, the team exchanged hugs and high-fives and waved towards Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the silver-haired president of the volcanic North Atlantic island nation, who was sitting in the sixth row of the Olympic handball arena. He applauded back, beaming.

As Grimsson filed out of the arena, he stopped for an impromptu interview. Some heads of state, it seems, are a bit more accessible than others.

We start talking about the impact of this team in Iceland. “Handball, for us, has become not just a sport, but the core of the national spirit,” Grimsson says.  Can anyone honestly say the same about any single U.S. Olympic team?…

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Author: Egill

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