Rio is getting close and Samba is in the air… Teams and coaches are gearing up to make the final selection for the Rio Olympics. Or as the FIH would say “The torch is lit for #sambasticks”. At the London Olympic park will be played the 2016 Champions Trophy. This once great tournament has been reduced to preparation for the biggest sport event. It will feature most of the contenders for Olympic medals, including the world’s number 1 Australia. However it’s clear already most of these teams will not bring their strongest line-up. Giving much needed rest for some and the very last opportunity to shine to others… In Düsseldorf there will be one last opportunity to see our European top teams before they travel to Brazil. Most likely it is there you will see the Olympic selection for Germany, the Netherlands, Great-Britain and Belgium.
And by the 6th of August the tournament gets underway with it’s big finish on the 18th of August when at 17h local time (22h CET) the final to decide for Olympic gold starts, followed by the women’s final the day after. The FIH made us this Brazilian style video with the full schedule :
I could not find you the odds from the well known bookmakers around the world yet for hockey in Rio. But below you’ll see the official FIH ranking and my own corrected version of the same ranking. The difference is in my own ranking there were no points counted for the Champions Trophy, because it is has become a mere invitational tournament, so not all have the possibility to play and earn points. And I have not counted the points earned in the continental championships either, because it is not fair to compare the European Championship (with 4 nations from the top 5) to the other continental championships.
|Rank||FIH ranking||My own ranking|
At the moment Australia and the Netherlands seem to be the biggest contenders for gold. Germany seems no longer to be the same powerhouse in major events lately but they still have some amazing players and have this uncanny ability to rise when the going gets tough. So I predict they will make it to the final.
I think Netherlands will be their opponents in the Rio final. They have an amazing team which has come of age and seems to have the experience combined with the hunger to go all the way this time. That’s why I think we will get a repeat from the London final but this time gold will go the way of the orange team.
The bronze medal game will be one between the world’s number 1 Australia and the most improved team of them all Belgium. This one too will be too close to call, but if put on the spot I think the Australian experience in these kind of games will be deciding. So the Aussies will take the bronze home again.
For the women the big 3 contenders are the Netherlands, Australia and Argentina. Impossible for me (since I do not watch it often) to venture an educated guess regarding the women’s medals other than it will probably be these 3 nations who will make the podium.
Whatever the outcome I’m sure we will enjoy some great hockey again next August… and I sincerely hope the FIH will do all they can to prevent this will have been the last Olympics where we will play the 11 versus 11 hockey as we know it. Because my biggest fear will be the FIH replacing it with Hockey 5’s for marketing reasons. So let’s hope we get to see some amazing hockey at Rio Olympics and again in Tokyo…