Hockey Headlines

Sunday, 24 June 2012

From Moscow Until Now

We last looked at the field hockey events that took place before 1980. With the Summer Olympic Games in 1980 taking place in Moscow, Russia, there was a significant change in the field hockey event as the women began play as part of the Olympic Games. We saw how India and Pakistan dominated all of the Olympic Games before 1980, and there are three countries who began to establish their dominance at the Olympics in field hockey. Today, we look at the 1980 Olympic Games until the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Games in Moscow were a celebration of the Soviet Union, and the men also made a run at a gold medal in the field hockey event. Spain finished atop the standings at 4-0-1 while India finished second at 3-0-2. The Soviet Union finished 3-2-0 to end up third while Poland captured fourth-place with a 2-2-1 record. That set up a bronze medal match between the USSR and Poland, and the Soviet Union captured its first medal in field hockey with a 2-1 win over Poland. India and Spain squared off in the gold medal match, and India returned to the top of the podium with a 4-3 win.

The women participated for the first time, and it was a one-round, winner-take-all format. The six countries participating were Austria, Czechoslovakia, India, Poland, USSR, and Zimbabwe. India opened the tournament with two wins over Austria and Poland, giving them the early edge. Zimbabwe, however, downed Poland 4-0 and tied Czechoslovakia to find themselves slightly behind. The third draw saw the standings swing, though, as Czechoslovakia downed India while Zimbabwe beat the USSR. India and Zimbabwe tied in the fourth draw, and both the USSR and Czechoslavakia won to create a bunch of win-loss scenarios for Zimbabwe, India, Czechslovakia, and USSR for the three medals. The three winning teams would medal, though, so it was imperative to win. The early game in the fifth draw saw Czechoslovakia beat Poland to put them into medal contention. The afternoon draw saw Zimbabwe down Austria to move them into gold medal contention. In the evening game, the USSR beat India to knock them out of the medals, leaving Zimbabwe with gold at 3-0-2, Czechoslovakia with silver at 3-1-1, and the USSR with bronze at 3-2-0.

The 1984 Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles, and there was a return to the podium for another men's team. Pool A saw Australia win with 5-0-0 record and West Germany come runner-up with a 3-1-1 record. Pool B was won by Great Britain with a 4-0-1 record while Pakistan finished second with a 2-0-3 record. In the semi-finals, Pakistan overcame Australia by a 1-0 score while West Germany downed Great Britain by the same 1-0 score. Great Britain would capture the bronze medal with a 3-2 win over Australia. After falling behind 1-0, Pakistan would rally to tie the game with West Germany before scoring the winner at the 82nd minute in extra time to capture the gold medal.

The women saw six teams participate again: Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the USA. There aren't many results to be found regarding this event on the Internet, but I can tell you that the Netherlands earned the gold medal, West Germany earned the silver medal, and the United States won the bronze medal. For the second straight year, a country took home medals in both events of the same color.

Seoul, South Korea was the site of the 1988 Summer Olympics, and twelve men's teams took part in the event. Pool A was won by Australia with a 5-0-0 record while the Netherlands finished second with a 3-1-1 record. Pool B saw Germany advance as the top team with a 4-0-1 record while Great Britain captured second-place with a 3-1-1 record. Germany squared off with the Netherlands in the first semi-final, and the Germans got past the Dutch squad with a 2-1 win. Great Britain and Australia played in the other semi-final, and a Sean Kerly three-goal day pushed Great Britain past Australia by a 3-2 score. The bronze medal match pitted the Netherlands against Australia, and a couple of goals by Floris Jan Bovelander was enough for the Netherlands to take the bronze by a 2-1 score. Great Britain and Germany played for gold, and Great Britain jumped on the Germans early and often. Great Britain picked up the gold medal in 1988 by downing Germany 3-1 in the final.

Again, there seems to be a gap in the information about the '88 Games because there are no records that I can find of how the women's tournament shook down. I can tell you that Australia captured the gold medal, Korea did their country proud in winning the silver medal, and the Netherlands prevailed over Great Britain for the bronze medal. Here's hoping that we get more detailed results as we move into a new decade.

Barcelona, Spain hosted the 1992 Olympic Games, and we're starting to see trends develop. Pool A in the men's tournament had Australia and Germany advance to the semi-finals while Pool B advanced both Pakistan and the Netherlands. Australia would get by the Netherlands with a 3-2 victory while Germany downed Pakistan in the other semi-final by a 2-1 score. Pakistan and the Netherlands filled the nets, but Pakistan would outlast the Dutch in a 4-3 bronze medal win. In the final, Germany and Australia would battle in a close match, but the Germans would emerge as the gold medalists with a 3-1 win in Barcelona.

The women's side saw eight teams participate, and they were broken into two pools. Pool A had Germany and Spain advance while Pool B saw Korea and Great Britain move on. Germany would down Great Britain in the first semi-final game on a 2-1 score while Spain would down Korea by the same 2-1 score. That set Great Britain up for another potential bronze medal, and they would bring home a medal with a 4-3 win over Korea. In the final, the host Spanish team was clearly cheered on by their countrymen, and they knocked Germany off by a 2-1 score to capture the gold medal!

We jump ahead to 1996 where the Olympic Games were held in Atlanta. There were high hopes for a number of nations from the western hemisphere after some impressive showings at the Pan-American Games in 1995, but the final results would look familiar once again. On the men's side, Pool A advanced Spain and Germany while Pool B would send the Netherlands and Australia to the semi-finals. Spain would lock horns with Australia, and the Spaniards would emerge victorious with a 2-1 win. The Netherlands showed their skill by jumping out to a 3-0 lead before the Germans notched a goal, but it was far too late as the Dutch downed the Germans 3-1. Germany, after falling behind early, scored two goals four minutes apart, but the Australians had other plans. Two late goals gave way to a 3-2 victory, and the Aussies would claim the bronze medal. The gold medal game saw Spain open the scoring, but three straight goals by the Netherlands 15 minutes apart put the game out of reach as the Netherlands would capture gold in Atlanta.

The women's side had eight nations participating once again, and they would play a round-robin format amongst the eight teams with the top-two teams in the standings squaring off for the gold medal, and third- and fourth-place meeting for the bronze medal. After seven games, the Netherlands and Great Britain would finish in third- and fourth-place, respectively, and the gold medal would go to one of Australia or Korea. In the bronze medal match, the Dutch and British played right through extra time without a goal, so penalty strokes would be needed. The Netherlands would push four penalty strokes to the back of the net to the Britons' three strokes, giving them the bronze medal! In the final, Australia overpowered the Koreans in a 3-1 victory that saw Alyson Annan score a pair including the game-winner. Australia captured the gold medal in Atlanta!

Sydney, Australia hosted the 2000 Olympic Games, and there was definite anticipation for the field hockey event with the Aussies looking for a gold medal on their home soil. Twelve teams participated, split into two six-team pools. Pool A saw Pakistan and the Netherlands advance to the semi-finals while Pool B would be represented by Australia and South Korea. South Korea and Pakistan would meet in the first semi-final, and Song Seung-Tae's goal in the 56th minute was all the the scoring needed as South Korea rallied past Pakistan 1-0. The other semi-final featured a sold-out pitch as the Netherlands and Australia squared off. While both sides had chances, neither team could find the back of the net in the allotted time, and it was off to penalty strokes. The Netherlands managed to net all five shots to the Australians' four shots, and the Netherlands would advance to the final. In the bronze medal match, Australia exploded for goals, including three by Troy Elder, as the Aussies would capture the bronze medal over Pakistan by a 6-3 score. In the final, the Netherlands appeared to be on their way to a gold medal with a 3-1 lead inside 65 minutes, but two successful penalty corners at the 66th and 68th minutes pull South Korea even. Extra time solved nothing, so it was back to penalty strokes, and the Netherlands pulled out the 5-4 victory margin to capture the gold medal in Sydney!

The women's tournament saw the top-three teams from each pool advance to a medal-round pool. Pool C had Australia, Argentina, and Spain advance while Pool D was represented by New Zealand, China, and the Netherlands. In the medal pool, the top-four finishers, in order, were Australia, Argentina, Netherlands, and Spain, meaning that the host Aussies would get a chance at a gold medal yet! In the bronze medal match, the Netherlands met with Spain. It wasn't an overly exciting match, but the Dutch women picked up the bronze medal after a 2-0 win over Spain. In the gold medal game, the host Australians used the home crowd's support to jump out to a 3-0 lead just 37 minutes in. Argentina would score a goal at the 43rd minute, but they wouldn't recover as Australia would win the gold medal by a 3-1 score!

The 2004 Olympic Games returned to Athens, Greece where twelve men's teams would take to the pitch. Once again, there were two pools of six teams, and the top-two teams would advance to the semi-finals. Pool A saw Spain and Germany advance while Pool B had the Netherlands and Australia advance to the semi-finals. The Netherlands met Germany in the first semi-final, and the Dutch squad continued its unbeaten ways as they downed Germany by a 3-2 score. Australia jumped out to a quick lead over Spain, and would down the Spaniards by a 6-3 score in their semi-final. Germany and Spain met for the bronze medal, and it took extra time to decide a winner. Björn Michel's golden goal in extra time would push Germany past Spain in a 4-3 victory! In the gold medal game, the winner would need extra time as well. Jamie Dwyer scored the golden goal for Australia, and the Aussies took home the gold medal!

The women's side saw ten teams participate, and the favorites had to be Australia going in. Pool A had China and Argentina move on while Pool B saw the Netherlands and Germany advance. Australia actually finished fourth in Pool B as they struggled in the preliminary round, meaning there would be a new gold medalist in Athens! The Netherlands and Argentina would meet in the first semi-final, and the two teams would match each other through regulation time. This 2-2 game would need penalty strokes to decide a winner, and the Netherlands continued its winning ways with the penalty strokes as they outscored Argentina 4-2 to move on. China and Germany also matched each other shot for shot, but neither team would score in regulation time. Penalty strokes would decide this semi-final as well as the Germans downed the Chinese 4-3 to advance to the gold medal game. In the bronze medal game, China continued its tight-checking ways, but Argentina broke through with a Luciana Aymar goal in the 70th minute to capture the bronze medal with a 1-0 victory! In the gold medal game, Germany jumped out to a 2-0 lead before settling in defensively. The Netherlands would get one goal back, but the Germans would be crowned as the gold medalists with a 2-1 win!

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will be our last stop today. Twelve men's teams played in this Olympiad with Australia looking to defend its gold medal. Pool A saw Spain and Germany advance to the semi-finals while Pool B sent the Netherlands and Australia. Germany and the Netherlands would meet again in the semi-finals, and these two teams would find themselves deadlocked at 1-1 after regulation time. In the penalty shootout, Christopher Zeller's goal on Germany's sixth penalty stroke would be the difference as Germany downed the Netherlands 4-3 in the shootout. In the other semi-final, Australia jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 37 minutes in, but Spain would get two goals from Eduard Tubau at the 39th and 44th minutes to tie the game. 24 minutes later, Santi Freixa would deliver the knockout goal as Spain downed Australia 3-2 to advance to the gold medal game. In the bronze medal game, Australia scored three goals before the game was even ten minutes old, and they rode that early lead to a 6-2 victory over the Netherlands for the bronze medal. Spain and Germany battled in a tight affair, but Christopher Zeller's 16th minute goal was the difference as Germany downed Spain 1-0 to capture the gold medal!

The women's tournament featured twelve teams, and there was hope that the Chinese squad would follow Australia's lead in capturing the gold medal on home soil. Pool A saw the Netherlands and China move on while Pool B had Germany and Argentina emerge as the top-two teams. The first semi-final pitted China against Germany, and the Chinese would rally from a 2-1 deficit to beat the Germans 3-2 and advance to the gold medal game! In the other semi-final, the Netherlands met up with Argentina where Maartje Paumen put on a show in scoring three times, allowing the Netherlands to get by Argentina by a 5-2 score. The bronze medal game saw Argentina jump out to a 2-0 lead before they exchanged goals with the Germans in the second half. With the 3-1 victory, Argentina captured the bronze medal! The gold medal match saw the Dutch team play extremely well as they notched a pair of second-half goals to win the gold medal over China by a 2-0 score!

There are all of the winners since 1980 on both the men's and women's sides. Here's how the medal standings break down since the introduction of the women's tournament at the Olympics:

MEN'S STANDINGS

  • GERMANY: 2 gold, 3 silver.
  • AUSTRALIA: 1 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze.
  • NETHERLANDS: 2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze.
  • SPAIN: 3 silver.
  • GREAT BRITAIN: 1 gold, 1 bronze.
  • PAKISTAN: 1 gold, 1 bronze.
  • INDIA: 1 gold.
  • KOREA: 1 silver.
  • USSR: 1 bronze.
WOMEN'S STANDINGS
  • NETHERLANDS: 2 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze.
  • AUSTRALIA: 3 gold.
  • GERMANY: 1 gold, 2 silver.
  • ARGENTINA: 1 silver, 2 bronze.
  • KOREA: 2 silver.
  • ZIMBABWE: 1 gold.
  • SPAIN: 1 gold.
  • CZECHOSLOVAKIA: 1 silver.
  • CHINA: 1 bronze.
  • USSR: 1 bronze.
  • USA: 1 bronze.
  • GREAT BRITAIN: 1 bronze.
Clearly, there isn't a dominant team like India was for so many years on the men's side, but you'd have to think that the British men and women are going to give it their all with them playing in front of their home crowds. We'll break down some of the rules of the game in the next entry, and we'll start to preview some of the teams that have already qualified for the Olympics in the future.

Until then, keep your sticks on the field!

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