(Photo: FIH / Gordon Morrison)

The six participants in the Hero FIH Road to London tournament in Delhi (February 18 to 25) have very little Olympic experience. Canada and South Africa played in three Olympic competitions, India and Poland in one, while Italy and Ukraine are still dreaming of a first Olympic participation. So far, none of these countries has stepped on the Olympic podium for a medal.

Canada participated in 3 Olympic Games in the early days of women’s hockey in the Olympic program (1984 in Los Angeles, 1988 in Seoul and 1992 in Barcelona). They never fared well and finished every time in the bottom half of the field.

They earned their Olympic berth in 1992 through an Olympic Qualifier, but failed in their two subsequent attempts (1995 and 2008).

South Africa participated in the last 3 Olympic Games as African Champions, but always with mediocre results, finishing last or second-last each time. Their Olympic Committee decided this year that the 2011 African Games were not competitive enough and that the South African squad needed to confirm their continental victory through the Olympic Qualifier, forcing this unique situation of a team having to qualify twice for the Olympic competition.

South Africa played once before in an Olympic Qualifier, finishing last in 1995 even though they were playing at home in Cape Town.

India and Poland both participated in the 1980 Olympic competition in Moscow, when the competition was marred by the boycott of most top hockey teams.

India finished at the bottom of the podium (4th), while Poland finished last of the reduced field.

India participated twice times in an Olympic Qualifier (2000 and 2008) but were unsuccessful both times.

Italy and Ukraine never participated in the Olympic Games, and were both unsuccessful in their two attempts in an Olympic Qualifier (1991 and 2008 for Italy, 2004 and 2008 for Ukraine), although Italy came very close in 2008 when they only fell to Korea in the final of the qualification competition in Victoria, Canada.

The current format of the Olympic Qualifier is ruthless, with only one team earning a berth for London while the other five squads will go home with shattered Olympic dreams.

Canada has participated in 3 Olympic Games
1992 - Barcelona 7th of 8 participants
1988 - Seoul 6th of 8 participants
1984 - Los Angeles 5th of 6 participants
 
South Africa has participated in 3 Olympic Games
2008 - Beijing 11th of 12 participants
2004 - Athens 9th of 10 participants
2000 - Sydney 10th of 10 participants
 
India has participated in 1 Olympic Games
1980 - Moscow 4th of 6 participants
 
Poland has participated in 1 Olympic Games
1980 - Moscow 6th of 6 participants
 
Italy has never participated in the Olympic Games
 
Ukraine has never participated in the Olympic Games