There have been plenty of mind blowing scenes in the IHF Handball World Cup being held in Egypt 2021 already with last-minute withdrawals, COVID-19 match cancellations and surprise results:
In addition to the breathtaking tournament standings one man has really caught the attention of the world in Cairo and that’s DR Congo pivot Gauthier Mvumbi; even NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is getting in on the act.
“They say you’re the Shaq of team handball, what’s happening” – Shaquille O’Neal
The 26-year-old giant stole the show against Argentina in his nation’s first ever game at a handball world champs, standing 1.92m tall and weighing in at 110+ kilograms the Argentinian players dwarfed in comparison to the African Giant.
Mvumbi played 11 minutes and 17 seconds against the Argentinian side and scored four goals from four shots six metres out.
It was a fine debut for the African team, they led Pan American champs Argentina at half time 14-13, but the blue and whites took control in the second half, eventually winning by 28-22.
But there was no doubt who the star was, Mvumbi’s performance went viral and even reached Shaquille O’Neal in the States, Shaq posting a video to his Instagram story.
“They say you’re the Shaq of team handball, what’s happening,” said the NBA hall of fame.
Mvumbi couldn’t believe it, replying on Instagram:
“A dream that becomes reality that I do not believe in it … my idol @shaq 🙏🏾🙏🏾 my star 💫 🙏🏾🙏🏾 and I say thank you to you for your message and your support .. I do not quite understand what is happening but what I have to say to you: live your dream and fight for what you are.”
Mvumbi on Focus:
Born in Chartres, France, to Congolese parents from Kinshasa, Mvumbi played at his local club before joining neighbour side Vernouillet.
It wasn’t long before opportunity came knocking and he was invited to join the Creteil Handball Academy and shared space with some of France’s national team players on the current team like Nedim Remili and Hugo Descat.
In August the Congolese player signed for French fourth division team Dreux AC, one of the opposition coaches saying “he’s a different player, you can’t move him,” as reported in Congolese newspaper L’Echo Republicain.
Now he’s living his dream, playing at Egypt 2021.
“I never thought I’d live this so I have to make the most of it. My aim is to have fun, to really give it my best,” he said.