The clock continues to tick down to the London 2012 Olympics and with 70 days left, it means that in just 10 weeks, the world’s top athletes will all converge on the city to go for gold. Hitting the 10 week mark seemed to be the perfect opportunity to pick the Top Ten story lines surrounding the Games.
10. Welcome to the Olympics:
For the Belgium women, earning the spot at the London 2012 Games was a major feat. They entered their qualification tournament as the third-highest seed with Ireland and Spain weighing in as the big favorites. But a spectacular showing on home field in Antwerp secured the Belgium women their first-ever Olympic appearance.
9. Oh say can you see:
The Olympics always draw massive interest in America and with the U.S. women’s team winning its first-ever Pan American title, hockey is set to get some positive attention when the entire nation’s eyes are on the London. It is a massive opportunity for the sport to take the spotlight in a developing market.
8. Double the Pleasure:
Of the 24 teams in the men’s and women’s events, an incredible 75 percent are bringing along both their men’s and women’s national teams. New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Germany, Korea, Argentina and Great Britain will be represented twice in the hockey tournament.
7. Double Time:
One of the above mentioned double teams had to work doubly hard to make it to London. Both the South African men’s and women’s teams were automatically qualified after winning the Africa Cup last year, but the South African National Olympic Committee ruled that the teams had to go through the qualification tournament process to secure a berth in London. Both teams faced the challenge head on, the women winning in India and the men topping the Japan qualifier, and will join the Games.
6. And that’s a Wrap:
When South Africa hoisted the Olympic Qualification Tournament trophy in Kakamigahara, Japan on May 6th, it marked the end of an era. With the FIH World League set to kick off directly after the Olympics, the qualification tournaments for both the World Cup and Olympics will be a thing of the past as the FIH World League will serve as the qualifier for both events.
5. Hockey comes Home:
This will be the first time since the 2000 Games in Sydney that the Olympics will be held in one of hockey’s strongest nations. Already, the lead up and interest in the hockey tournament at the Olympics is massive. The Big Dribble was a huge success and virtually every ticket for the hockey tournament has been quickly snatched up. It is sure to be an unforgettable atmosphere in London.
4. Media Blitz:
Every Olympics the sports involved are the focus of the world’s attention. But thanks to hockey’s prominence in Great Britain (see #5) and the hockey stadium’s proximity to the main press center, the sport is set to steal a few headlines. Add in a few visits by the Royal family and hockey’s sold-out stadium with big name visitors could quickly become the toast of the town.
3. Swan song:
Of course, there’s no official word on who will step down after the Olympics, but a quick look at the age column shows that several of hockey’s top stars could call it a day after the London Games. Jamie Dwyer, Luciana Aymar, Teun de Nooijer, Pol Amat, Fu Baorong, Kate Walsh and Taeke Taekema are just a few of the big names that could decide that their international careers are over after London – naturally we’re hoping to see them all go with a bang!
2. A Double Triple:
There is a chance that the Australian men and the Argentine women could each pull off a unique triple honor if they win Olympic gold. Both nations are coming into London as the current World Champions, the current Champions Trophy holders and could complete the triple with the Olympic title.
1. The Rainbow of Colors:
50 years from now, London will be known as the blue and pink pitch Olympics – and let’s not forget the yellow ball. The eye catching field has captured the imagination and attention of the world. Hockey is the standout in every aerial shot of the Olympic Park. Time will tell if the blue is here to stay, but either way, it was a decision that has put hockey at the forefront of the Olympic venues.
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