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The question is who is more excited the participating athletes or those that have followed them over their four years of preparation for the greatest sporting event of the planet –the Olympics. As much as those talented hardworking sacrificial athletes who have put other aspects of their lives on hold to achieve the ultimate prize an Olympic Gold Medal there are in the wings those athletes who just missed out on selection, mums, dads, husbands and wives who have supported and sacrificed for their children’s and spouse’s dream, coaches, managers and support staff  who shaped their playing careers since they first picked up a hockey stick, sponsors who have supported them to finally the friends and fans who are proud of their achievements.

Yes the Olympics from its great Greek beginnings until now is the sporting event of sporting events. It does not matter how many championships or tournaments a team has won coming into the Olympics it is receiving a medal that nations and players ‘boast’ about and it is because of this there is much pressure that rests upon the head of each participating athlete who is representing the people of their nation. Saying all that lets bring on the 2016 Rio Olympics and for us the men’s and women’s hockey events. May hockey receive unprecedented TV coverage so that we can watch the best of the best in action continuously.

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Who will be standing on the podium at the end of it all may or may not be a surprise.
roi2 Australia win recent Champions Trophy

In the men’s competition it should be Australia who is ranked no.1 in the world, and if consistent form is any indication then they deserve to be there, having recently won the 2016 Champions Tournament and a number of major events since their disappointing 3rd at the London Olympics. The 2014 World Cup winners have a blend of experience and youth that is only matched by the competitiveness, professionalism and consistency. But saying that one cannot underestimate the ability of the Dutch or the Germans to peak at the appropriate time and steal Australia’s thunder. Germany, the winners of the 2012 Olympics are craftsmen in peaking at the right time and on any day there is nothing between these 3 teams. Then there is Great Britain, Belgium and the constantly improving Indian team whose newly acclaimed self-belief which is matched also by their improving skillset can put their hand up as a real threat.

rio3 Argentina win recent Champions Trophy

In the women’s competition if consistency is the rule of measure then Argentina, recent winners of the 2016 Champions Tournament and no. 1 world ranked Netherlands should take up one and two on the podium. Who will get the gold would be  a tough ‘bet’ to place. Then the second tier of Australia, Great Britain, USA and New Zealand should fight it out for the bronze medal. Not to sound the obvious but it will be the team that maintains consistency throughout the round games and makes the most of their chances in the semi-finals and possible final that will determine their fate. It will require as much a planned mental approach as technical/strategical brilliance to see who finishes on the podium. Australia (ranked 3) and New Zealand (ranked 4) are working hard at ‘plugging up’ their recent inconsistent form. Of these teams the USA is the surprise package after collecting a bronze medal at the recent 2016 Champions Tournament. They have progressed from coming 12th at the 2012 London  Olympics.

About the 2016 Rio Olympics – Men’s and Women’s Hockey

  • Competition
    14 (Days 1-14) 6 to 19 August
  • Medal Events
    2 (2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze)
  • Total Athletes
    384 (192 men & 192 women; 12 teams in each event)
  • Venue

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Deodoro Olympic Park.  At the London 2012 Games the hockey pitches were blue instead of the traditional green. The decision was made to provide high levels of contrast with the ball and lines for players, officials and spectators. In Rio the blue pitch will once again be utilised

  • Competition Schedule

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  • Format changes

If you  have not watched current international games you can expect see the following match format changes. A reduction from two 35-minute halves to four 15-minute quarters, with 2 minutes’ rest after each period, and 15 at halftime. The purpose of the changes aims to improve the flow and intensity of the competition, and reinforce fan experience and opportunity for game presentation and analysis. Other changes include the implementation of 40-second time outs following both penalty corner awards and the scoring of a goal. Both interruptions and time outs must assure that the 60-minute game time is escalated for actual tournament and not depleted with a penalty corner set up, especially when the ball is not in play. Games ending in ties in knockout rounds are decided by penalty shootouts.

  • Participating countries

The following countries are represented at Rio Olympics after qualifying through a number of International eventsNote the brackets after the country. This represents the countries FIH world ranking. These rankings are not current but close to the current FIH rankings. From review of this you can see a number of surprise inclusions in the total of 12 when you consider the rankings that country holds. The ranking being a measure of consistency. 
rio7 MEN   rio8    WOMEN
In the Men’s 12 qualifiers Brazil as the host nation qualified despite having a ranking of 30 (at the moment it is 32) meeting the FIH criteria by finishing in fourth place at the 2015 Pan American Games. Their women failed in their attempt. Another surprising additions were Ireland that made its first Olympics since 1908 and Canada. Although ranked outside of the 12 they beat  New Zealand at the 2015 World League tournament in Buenos Aires to make the qualification. However New Zealand then made the 12 after South Africa who qualified relinquished its spot. 
In the women’s 12 qualifiers India remakes an Olympics appearance after 36 years under the coaching prowess of Australian Neil Hawgood. Similar to the men although South Africa qualified they relinquished their position to a Spain. 
Whatever the final results may be each representative Olympic player can be proud of their efforts to get to Rio because certainly everyone who is not there is proud of your achievement – you now wear the badge of an Olympian for life thereafter.

Source: various