Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BEIJING 2008: Hockey

Since 1964, Australia have won 10 hockey medals, four of them Gold. For many decades the Australian men's hockey team, the Kookaburras, was the best in the world, but unfortunately suffered a severe case of "Norman choke". Until Athens 04, the 'burras had won 3 silver and 3 bronze medals with their first gold to finally come in 04. On the other side of this astro turf field of dreams the Australian women's team, (known as the Hockeyroos ) have gone after the gold like a Filipino mail order bride. After winning it all in 88, 96 and 2000, these sexy gold diggers were unable to take away any medals from Athens.

11 teams have set their sights on defending men's champions Australia, to wrestle the gold from their grasp. Out of the 12 teams Coach Dancer lists Germany, Holland, Spain and Korea as the real threats to Australia's back to back gold glory.

Australia has drawn the Netherlands, Pakistan, Great Britain, Canada and South Africa in their group stage with Germany, Spain, South Korea, New Zealand, Belgium and hosts China comprising the other group of competing nations.

If all goes to plan Australia will likely face the Dutch, Germany and Spain in the finals but from there no one can write the script. Australia will be buoyed by their recent tournament victories in the 2008 Champions Trophy and the Beijing "me so lucky" Olympic test event crown.

The women are currently ranked 4 in the world and I tip to impress in these games. Despite previous victories in China, I will have to put pollution, heat and humidity as the three main threats to the Aussie tilt. No doubt Channel 7 will split coverage of the hockey with the synchronised swimming, shot put, the 20km walk, archery, and badminton, so if you are lucky you will get about 5-10 min snippets of the games, but I urge you to stay alert and keep your eyes open for Hockeyroo 'Miss Hollywood' - I think you will agree that its worth it.

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