Sunday, August 10, 2008

Asian Women on Song

RESULTS: WOMEN Day 1: Pool A: Australia 5 (Shelly Liddelow 26, 50, Nicole Hudson 47, Sarah Young 56, Casey Eastham 65) South Korea 4 (Kim Mi-Seon 19, Kim Da-Rae 28, Gim Sung-Hee 33, Park Mi-Hyun 34) H-t: 1-4.
China 3 (Fu Baorong 17, Li Hongxia 31, Gao Lihua 37) Spain 0 H-t: 2-0.
Pool B: Japan 2 (Sakae Morimoto 12, Toshie Tsukui 17) New Zealand 1 (Jaimee Claxton 25) H-t: 2-1. Argentina 2, United States 2.

BEIJING, Aug 10, 2008 (AFP) - Asian women overcame gloomy weather and rain to make a bright start in the Olympic field hockey as hosts China and Japan recorded opening day wins on Sunday.
China, gold medallists at the Asian Games in Qatar two years ago, blanked Spain 3-0 in a pool A match watched by some 5,000 home fans at the Beijing Hockey Centre.
Japan, who won the Asian Games silver behind China, warded off a spirited challenge from New Zealand before winning 2-1 in pool B.
Li Hongxia, who scored the second goal to give China a 2-0 lead at half-time, said she was inspired to see the big crowd in the stands.
“There was a bit of pressure since this was our first match, but I was motivated when I saw so many people had come to watch the match,” she said.
“I am sure the fans will continue to support us in the rest of the competition. We will try not to disappoint them.” China had two goals disallowed in the opening quarter, but took the lead in the 17th minute when Fu Baorong scored with a reverse flick from the left.
A powerful reverse hit by Li a minute before half-time make it 2-0 before Gao Lihua sealed Spain’s defeat soon after the break by deflecting in a pass from the left.
Spain, who had considered withdrawing from the competition after doping allegations were levelled against two of its players at the Olympic qualifiers in Azerbaijan in April, had no answer to the Chinese raids.
“These girls are very fast and it was hard for our defence to adjust to them,” said Spain’s Maria Rosa.
“They controlled the tempo of the game after scoring those two goals and the support from the crowd was also helping them.” The Spanish team’s participation in Beijing was confirmed last Friday, just one day before the opening ceremony, when Azerbaijan’s protest was thrown out by the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
Azerbaijan went to the CAS to protest at the decision of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to allow Spain to take part in the Games despite alleged doping violations against two players.
Azerbaijan argued that two Spanish girls, Gloria Comerma and an unnamed player, had failed dope tests during the Olympic qualifying tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The FIH, while accepting that Comerma committed an anti-doping rule violation, declined to impose sanctions against her since “there was no fault or negligence on her part.” The case against the other player was dropped.
Meanwhile, Japan led 2-0 by the 17th minute through goals by Sakae Morimoto and Toshi Tsukui before Jaimee Claxton pulled one back for New Zealand in the 25th minute.
“I feel happy because it is very comforting to win the first game,” said Japanese midfielder Rika Komazawa. “We combined very well today.”

KL Champions for 17th time

Kuala Lumpur players celebrate their 17th Razak Cup title.
Negri Sembilan's A Sasidaran (left) in action against Kuala Lumpur's Kelvinder Singh.

KUALA Lumpur won their 17th Razak Cup title with a convincing 5-0 thumping of Negri Sembilan at the Tun Razak Stadium yesterday.
And in Division Two, Penang upset Selangor 3-2, in a match marred by a red card after umpire Syed Harun was slapped, and then narrowly missed the swing of a hockey stick.
The incident happened in the last minute of regulation time, when Selangor’s Rohizan Ramli harassed umpire Syed after he blew for a penalty corner.
Syed flashed a yellow card to Rohizan, who then slapped the umpire, and swung his stick which missed by inches. The case has been referred to the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) Disciplinary Board.
The 46th Razak Cup also saw a record of sorts, as six red cards were flashed in nine days.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur took the lead in the sixth minute off a Tajol Rosli penalty corner rebound, and the score stood until the breather.
Negri and KL each received eight penalty corners in the match, but Negri wasted all, while KL made it count and walked away with a comfortable win in the second half.
The other KL goals were scored by Amin Rahim (45th, 50th), Ismail Abu (54th) and Harvinder Singh (61st).
In the Division Two final, Penang lifted the title on a Craig Joseph Fernandez hat-trick in the third, 41st and 44th minutes.
Amerullah Aziz (26th) and Mohamed Noor Faeez (53rd) scored for Selangor.
RESULTS: Division One -- Final: Kuala Lumpur 5 Negri Sembilan 0; Division Two: Final: Penang 3 Selangor 2.
ROLL-OF-HONOUR: Division One -- Champions: Kuala Lumpur (RM10,000); Runners-up: Negri Sembilan (RM7,000); Third: Perak (RM5,000).
Division Two: Champions -- Penang (RM5,000); Runners- up: Selangor (RM3,000); Third: Perlis (RM2,000).
Fair-play: Penang; Top-Scorer: Amin Rahim (Kuala Lumpur, eight goals); Best Player of Tournament: Madzli Ikmar (Kuala Lumpur); Best Goalkeeper: M. Nadarajan (Kuala Lumpur); Man-of-the-Final: Kelvinder Singh (Kuala Lumpur).

US Field Hockey History

Lauren Powley of the US practices at the Olympic Green Hockey Field in Beijing. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
US vs Netherlands Antilles last April. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

NEW YORK TIMES: You may remember it as something girls played on the unkempt grass fields of your high school. But field hockey at the Olympic level is quite a different sport.

World-class field hockey looks like a high-speed blend of soccer, ice hockey and billiards. With 10 field players and a goalkeeper, the positioning and strategy resemble soccer.
But players pass and shoot with what looks like a snub-nosed ice hockey stick, striking a ball about the size of a cue ball, across composite turf that runs as true and fast as a pool table’s felt.

In the United States, field hockey is almost exclusively a women’s sport, having been brought here in 1901 by the legendary Englishwoman Constance M.K. Applebee.
Worldwide, though, both men and women play. Men’s hockey became an Olympic sport in 1908, in London — and is celebrating its centennial this year — while the women’s version didn’t join the Olympic roster until 1980, in Moscow. (The first women’s gold medal was won by Zimbabwe.)

From 1928 until 1968, either India or Pakistan won every men’s gold medal (and the other usually took the silver). But several European nations plus New Zealand and Australia strengthened their programs, and since 1972, medals have been more widely distributed.
Among the women, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Argentina have dominated.
Three countries have gold medals to their credit from both their men’s and women’s teams: Australia, Germany and the Netherlands.
Australia is the defending men’s champion from the 2004 Games in Athens; Germany is the defending women’s champion.
As with soccer, field hockey has a World Cup and other international competitions in non-Olympic years, and the Swiss-based FIH (Federation International de Hockey) publishes world rankings based on performances at those tournaments.
Going into these Olympic Games, the top-ranked men’s team is Australia and the top-ranked women’s team is the Netherlands.
The United States men earned a bronze medal at the 1932 Games in Los Angeles. The American women’s best finish was the bronze medal at Los Angeles in 1984.
They failed to qualify for the past two Olympic Games. For more about the US women: