After more than a year-long journey, the final six tickets for field hockey at Tokyo 2020 have been claimed over this weekend. Along with India’s men’s and women’s teams, four other slots were booked as we now know the names of all 24 teams that will compete for the medals at the Summer Olympic Games next year.
Japans’s men and women were the first to have their name on the list as hosts but they went one step further and won the Asian Games gold too, as if to say they will be there on merit too. The other four continental champions also qualified automatically: namely Argentina men and women, South Africa men and women, Netherlands women, New Zealand women, Belgium men and Australia men.
And so it came down to the last two weekends to decide which were the other teams that would make the cut for competing at the biggest event in the sport as the FIH Olympic Qualifiers came to a conclusion.
Participants in the Olympic Qualifiers booked their places through one of three avenues: nations that finished first or second in the FIH Series Finals that took place earlier in the year; nations that finished in the top 4 of the inaugural FIH Pro League but did not win their Continental Championship; or by virtue of their FIH World Ranking.
Last weekend, six nations secured berths at next year’s global sporting showpiece, with Australia women, China women, Spain’s women and men, Netherlands men and Canada men all winning their respective two-game play-offs over three dramatic days of action.
On Saturday, India’s women came into their second leg match against USA with what looked like an unassailable 5-1 advantage, but a brilliant first half performance saw the Americans score four times without reply to level the aggregate score at 5-5 against the hosts. However, a captain’s goal from Rani Rampal in the final quarter gave India a 6-5 aggregate victory to break the hearts of a USA team that produced a truly monumental away performance in Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium.
India’s men ensured it was a double home celebration in Bhubaneswar by overpowering Russia 7-1 in their second leg match, a result which gave them an 11-3 victory on aggregate.
Women’s hockey at Tokyo 2020
Great Britain’s women claimed a 2-1 win over Chile in the second match of the day, a result which gave them a 5-1 victory on aggregate to keep alive the dream of successfully defending the Olympic title that they won at Rio 2016.
Germany’s women also booked their place at Tokyo 2020 with a dominant and impressive 7-0 win over Italy. The earlier game had seen Die Danas run out as slightly more tentative 2-0 winners, but the 9-0 aggregate score underlined their superiority over the lower-ranked European neighbours.
The final ticket to Tokyo 2020 was dramaticaly claimed by Ireland’s women at Dublin’s Energia Park, with the hosts claiming a 4-3 shoot-out victory over Canada in front of 6000 enthralled fans. The Green Army - silver medallists at least year’s Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 - trailed 3-1 in the shoot-out before staging a remarkable comeback before winning in sudden-death to achieve Olympic qualification for the first time in their history.
Men’s Hockey at Tokyo 2020
New Zealand’s men booked a safe passage through to next year’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 thanks to a 3-0 victory over Korea in Stratford. Great Britain’s men joined their women on the plane to Tokyo thanks largely to Alan Forsyth, who bagged a hat-trick as the hosts won 5-2 against Malaysia on the day and 9-3 on aggregate.
Germany’s men followed up their 5-0 first leg win over Austria on Saturday with a 5-3 triumph in Sunday’s second game to earn their Olympic berth.
It is worth noting that despite being a hockey powerhouse historically, Asia will see representation from only two men’s teams at Tokyo 2020: hosts Japan and eight-time champions India.
The final participation in the Olympic Games for any team must be approved and confirmed beforehand by their respective National Olympic Committee.
How Olympic qualification worked: The winners were determined as follows: teams were ranked according to the number of points each had accumulated in both matches (for each match, 3 points are awarded to the winner, 1 point to each team in the event of a draw and 0 point to the loser). If there was equality among the two teams, then the teams were ranked according to their respective goal difference. If the equality remained, a shoot-out competition would have been played to establish the winner.
FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers results:
Friday 25 October 2019 - Day 1 Results
Perth (AUS) - Women: Australia 4, Russia 2 (Match 1 of 2)
Changzhou (CHN) - Women: China 0, Belgium 2 (Match 1 of 2)
Valencia (ESP) - Men: Spain 3, France 3 (Match 1 of 2)
Valencia (ESP) - Women: Spain 2, Korea 1 (Match 1 of 2)
Saturday 26 October 2019 - Day 2 Results
Changzhou (CHN) - Women: China 2, Belgium 0 (Match 2 of 2)
Perth (AUS) - Women: Australia 5, Russia 0 (Match 2 of 2)
Amsterdam (NED) – Men: Netherlands 4, Pakistan 4 (Match 1 of 2)
Valencia (ESP) - Men: Spain 3, France 2 (Match 2 of 2)
Valencia (ESP) - Women: Spain 2, Korea 0 (Match 2 of 2)
Vancouver (CAN) – Men: Canada 3, Ireland 5 (Match 1 of 2)
Sunday 27 October 2019 - Day 3 Results
Amsterdam (NED) – Men: Netherlands 6, Pakistan 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Vancouver (CAN) – Men: Canada 3 Ireland 1 [5-4 After Shoot-Out] (Match 2 of 2)
Friday 1 November 2019 - Day 4 Results
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Women: India 5, USA 1 (Match 1 of 2)
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Men: India 4, Russia 2 (Match 1 of 2)
Saturday 2 November 2019 - Day 5 Results
Stratford (NZL) – Men: New Zealand 3, Korea 2 (Match 1 of 2)
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Women: India 1, USA 4 (Match 2 of 2)
London (ENG) - Women: Great Britain 3, Chile 0 (Match 1 of 2)
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Men: India 7, Russia 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Mönchengladbach (GER) – Women: Germany 2, Italy 0 (Match 1 of 2)
London (ENG) - Men: Great Britain 4, Malaysia 1 (Match 1 of 2)
Mönchengladbach (GER) – Men: Germany 5, Austria 0 (Match 1 of 2)
Dublin (IRL) – Women: Ireland 0, Canada 0 (Match 1 of 2)
Sunday 3 November 2019 - Day 6 Results
Stratford (NZL) – Men: New Zealand 3, Korea 0 (Match 2 of 2)
London (ENG) - Women: Great Britain 2, Chile 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Mönchengladbach (GER) – Women: Germany 7, Italy 0 (Match 2 of 2)
London (ENG) - Men: Great Britain 5, Malaysia 2 (Match 2 of 2)
Mönchengladbach (GER) – Men: Germany 5, Austria 3 (Match 2 of 2)
Dublin (IRL) – Women: Ireland 0, Canada 0 [4-3 After Shoot-Out] (Match 2 of 2)