A brilliant week of action at the EuroHockey Nations Championships saw many twists, turns and certainly a few shock results. Europe’s finest men’s and women’s international sides gathered at the Warsteiner Hockeypark in Mönchengladbach to fight not just for the right to be crowned as champions of Europe, but also to secure their place at the greatest show on earth – the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Race for the Games
Five Olympic berths were up for grabs at the tournament, with three being available in the men’s tournament and two in the women’s competition.
On the men’s side, newly crowned European champions Germany will be joined at the London 2012 Olympic Games by tournament Silver medallists The Netherlands. The two giants of the world game have won four out of the last five Olympic titles, and will surely be two of the teams to beat in London. Both coaches – Germany’s Markus Weise and Paul van Ass of The Netherlands – are building teams which they believe will be able to challenge the dominance of Ric Charlesworth’s Australia. The high quality displays produced by both teams during the EuroHockey Nations tournament suggests that they could well be capable of doing just that.
Despite being pipped to the Bronze medal by England (who as part of host nation Great Britain had already qualified for the Games), the third Olympic qualification place was taken by Belgium. Colin Batch’s rapidly improving team were superb throughout the tournament and claimed a place in the Semi Finals by defeating 2008 Olympic Silver medallists Spain, forcing their opponents into the draw for the Olympic Qualifying tournaments that take place early next year. It is not the first time that Belgium has shocked higher ranked opposition at the Euros. In 2007, they defeated then world champions Germany in the Bronze medal match, with Germany eventually booking their place at the 2008 Games by winning the Olympic Qualifier in Kakamigahara, Japan. Although they will be hugely disappointed not to have achieved Olympic qualification in Mönchengladbach, Spain will take comfort from the fact that the reigning Olympic Champions were also forced to do it the hard way.
The Netherlands continued their brilliant form in the women’s tournament, claiming the European title with a 3-0 victory over fellow London 2012 qualifiers Germany. The Netherlands defeated England in the Semi Finals to book their place at the Olympics, while a late Natascha Keller strike provided even more misery for Spain, whose women will now also need to win an Olympic Qualifying tournament in order to reach London 2012.
The Netherlands were shocked in their second match of the tournament in Mönchengladbach, losing 1-0 to eventual Pool A winners Spain, but quickly regained their composure to win all of their remaining matches including a superb display in the final against Germany. Few can argue that the Dutch are the most inform team in world hockey currently, and look to be favourites to defend the Olympic title that they won at Beijing 2008. Germany showed great improvement at the Euros, and in the incredible and seemingly ageless Keller – named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player – they have a true superstar.
Second chance for European Teams
The dream of reaching the London 2012 Olympics is still very much alive for many of the European teams. No less than eight European men's teams will get the chance to play in the Olympic Qualifying tournaments that begin early next year. These will be the four teams in Mönchengladbach that did not achieve direct qualification for the Olympic Games (Ireland - 5th, Spain - 6th, Russia - 7th & France - 8th) and the four highest ranked teams (not including Scotland or Wales) from the Championship II in Vinnitsa (Czech Republic - 1st, Poland 2nd, Austria - 4th & Ukraine - 5th.
Nine European sides will feature in the women’s Olympic Qualifiers. The five teams that did not directly qualify for the Olympic Games in Mönchengladbach - Spain (4th), Belgium (5th), Ireland (6th), Azerbaijan (7th) and Italy (8th) - will be joined by the four highest ranked teams (not including SCO or WAL **) from the Championship II in Poznan. These are Belarus (2nd), Russia (3rd), France (4th) & Ukraine (5th).
In other Olympic qualification news, the women’s team of Australia and New Zealand have had their places at the London 2012 Games confirmed due to the withdrawal of Fiji from the Oceania Cup. To read more about this story, please click here.
London 2012 Olympics – Qualification Update
Men’s Competition Women’s Competition
Host: GB (England) Host: GB (England)
Africa: tbc Africa: tbc
Asia: Pakistan Asia: China
Europe: Germany Europe: The Netherlands
Oceania: tbc Oceania: Australia / New Zealand
Pan America: tbc Pan America: tbc
Additional qualifiers based on Continental Ranking positions in 2011:
Europe (2nd): The Netherlands Europe (2nd): Germany
Europe (3rd): England * Oceania (2nd): Australia / New Zealand
Oceania (2nd): tbc Asia (2nd): Korea
* As ENG (hosts) qualified in any of the EUR positions above, then the following will also qualify for an additional quota place:
Europe (4th): Belgium
Winners of Olympic Qualifying Tournaments 2012 (see below):
Winner 1: tbc Winner 1: tbc
Winner 2: tbc Winner 2: tbc
Winner 3: tbc Winner 3: tbc
Quotas for Olympic Qualifying Tournaments
Number of teams from each Continental Championships:
Africa: 1 Africa: 0
Asia: 5 (MAS, IND, KOR, CHN, JPN) Asia: 3 (JPN, IND, MAS)
Europe: 8 Europe: 9
Oceania: 0 Oceania: 0
Pan America: 4 Pan America: 6
The Olympic Qualifying tournaments take place between February & May 2012.
Note: ** Under the GB agreement, only the results of ENG will be taken into account for GB qualification.So, if either SCO and/or WAL finish in either of the Championship II tournaments in any of the qualifying places (Men or Women), then the next ranked team in the Championship II will replace them and willqualify for an Olympic Qualifying tournament.
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