Updated: August 30, 2015 12:39:09 am
Thirty-six years after they last competed, the Indian women’s hockey team will return to the Olympics next year after their qualification was confirmed by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Saturday.
The fifth-place finish at the Hockey World League semi-finals earlier in July this year was enough for India to clinch an Olympic berth as a place opened up after the Netherlands and England reached the final of the EuroHockey Championships in London.
India’s only previous appearance for the Games was in 1980, when they finished fourth. The Indian women’s team, which had been waiting for the confirmation since the World League semifinal concluded, required two of the already-qualified teams to reach the final of the European Championships in order to confirm their place.
England’s semifinal victory over Spain on Friday, coming after the Netherlands’ win over Germany in the other semifinal of the European Championships, freed one quota place as both the finalists have already qualified for the Olympics.
“India qualified after England defeated Spain in the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Championships in London, which ensured that the only teams who can now win the event have already qualified for Rio through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals — Netherlands and England (as Great Britain),” the FIH said on its website. “The winner of the EuroHockey Championships will qualify for the 2016 Olympics as European continental champions, opening up a further qualification spot which India secure as the team who ranked highest at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals not already qualified,” it added.
A memorable achievement
India women join the nine teams already qualified for the Rio Games — Korea as Asian Games champions, USA as Pan Am Games champions and Great Britain, China, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and the USA through the Hockey World League semifinals.
The remaining two Olympic places will not be finalised until after the last two continental championships, the Oceania Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations, which conclude in November this year.
Hockey India president Narinder Batra said the achievement is the most memorable in recent times. “We have been waiting for this for the last 36 years and this achievement is the sweetest and the most memorable among all our previous feats in recent times. I congratulate all the players and coaching staff who made this dream real and this achievement also shows their commitment toward their responsibilities. I am sure the girls will make us proud at the Olympics,” Batra said a statement.
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