Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Game Over for Spain skipper Santiago

 The Spanish hockey Federation website today announced that Spanish captain Santiago Freixa is out of the Olympic tournament after suffering a broken arm in today’s game against Pakistan.
   Freixa will be replaced by defenseman Andres Mir, who was named as one of two alternates for the Spanish national team in London.
  Freixa was injured during the 1-1 draw against the Pakistanis and continued to play, although he was in obvious pain. After the match he was taken to the hospital for evaluation and it was determined that the fracture to the arm was too severe to allow him to continue in the tournament.
  Losing Freixa is a big blow for the Spanish team. The stoic forward has 50 goals in more than 180 national team appearances, including earning the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Women's Day 1 Hockey Action

Jul 29, 2012
NZL New Zealand
Australia AUS
NED Netherlands
Belgium BEL
CHN China
Korea KOR
ARG Argentina
South Africa RSA
GBR Great Britain
Japan JPN
GER Germany
United States USA

Men's Day 1 Hockey Action

Jul 30, 2012
KOR Korea
New Zealand NZL
AUS Australia
South Africa RSA
ESP Spain
Pakistan PAK
NED Netherlands
India IND
GBR Great Britain
Argentina ARG
GER Germany
Belgium BEL

Men's Day 1 Hockey Action

Jul 30, 2012
KOR Korea
New Zealand NZL
AUS Australia
South Africa RSA
ESP Spain
Pakistan PAK
NED Netherlands
India IND
GBR Great Britain
Argentina ARG
GER Germany
Belgium BEL

Monday, July 30, 2012

Australia hit sixer against S Africa..

The contest between Australia and South Africa looked like another David vs. Goliath encounter, with the Kookaburas ranked at the top of the FIH World Rankings and the Africans the lowest ranked team in this Olympic competition.
It did not take long for Jamie Dwyer to be dangerous, penetrating the circle and arriving alone in front of Erasmus Pieterse in the South African goal, who managed the save but conceded a penalty-corner. The South Africans survived the initial flurries of Australian attacks and play became more balanced for a while. The Kookaburas could not do much of their first two penalty-corners and the next chance was at the other end for Marvin Harper, whose tentative shot nearly surprised the Australian defense.
Australia earned a penalty-stroke in the 16th minute after a pinball sequence in the South African circle, the ball hitting sticks, posts and players. Jamie Dwyer cleanly slotted the ball out of reach of the goal-keeper to open the score. The Australians then had a string of near misses; they were unsuccessful on their next two penalty-corners, Kieran Govers could not beat the goal-keeper one on one after receiving the ball alone far behind the South African defenders and they were denied a penalty-corner goal by a successful South African video-referral.
It was once again Jamie Dwyer who finally unlocked the situation, offering a splendid pass to Matthew Butturini left with an easy tap-in for the second Australian goal. Although the South Africans were clearly pushed back on the heels during most of the period, the score was only 2-0 at half-time and the Australians were certainly unhappy with their many wasted chances.
South Africa played well at the beginning of second period, displaying some strong individual skills and swift combinations, but Australia opened an insurmountable break in a few minutes with a couple of penalty-corner goals, first by Christopher Ciriello then by Jamie Dwyer.
Jamie Dwyer completed his hat-trick with ten minutes to go in the match, scoring another penalty-stroke after been taken down by Erasmus Pieterse in the circle. With this goal, Dwyer moved level with Mark Hager as top Australian all-time goal scorer! South Africa ran out of steam in the final stages of the match and could not deal any more with wave after wave of Kookaburas attacks regularly outnumbering their defense. Glenn Turner added a final goal and Australia comfortably bagged the 3 points of the win.

(Yan Huckendubler)

Korea v NZ in pictures..

Men's hockey: South Korea beat NZ 2-0

 First match of the 2012 Olympic competition promised to be a close contest between two teams following each other in the FIH world rankings (6th for Korea and 7th for New Zealand) and with similar international experience (average of 155 international Caps for Korea and 150 for New Zealand).
     As expected, the match started with an intense battle for possession in midfield, neither team leaving an inch to the other. The Black Sticks tried to circulate the ball around the Koreans, tightly regrouped in defense and only sporadically pushing up with long balls for a high forward. First opportunity for goal was for Simon   Child in the 6th minute on a cross from the right and Korean goalkeeper Lee Myung Ho slightly out of position, but the ball bounced over his stick just when he was volleying it.
      Kyle Pontifex in goal for New Zealand was called into action shortly after when a turn-over in midfield was promptly turned into a goal opportunity by Lee Nam Yong. Although not rich in goal chances, the intense tactical battle was fascinating and the near capacity crowd of the Riverbank Arena watched in awe the display of individual and collective skills, wondering who would be the first to outplay the opponent. The break came after a green card to Nicholas Haig: Kang Moon Kyu played the free hit quickly and found You Hyo Sik for an unstoppable deflection in goal.
      This seemed to take some wind out of the Black Sticks’ sails and the Koreans collectively moved higher on the field, leaving even less space for manoeuver in midfield. They pushed in the final minutes of the period and a hard cross from the left eluded everybody in the circle to find You Hyo Sik left unmarked on the far post for his second goal of the day and a comfortable two-goal lead for Korea going into the half-time break.
     Despite the support of the crowd, the New Zealanders seemed to have lost their initial enthusiasm and the Koreans had the upper hand at the beginning of second period. Kyle Pontifex needed to be sharp to fend off a few Koreans attempts from close range. There always seemed to be an extra Korean attacker coming from nowhere and the Black Sticks had to work hard to avoid conceding additional goals. Both teams had a chance on penalty-corner with ten minutes left to play, but the attempts were handled well by the defenders.
     New Zealand had another flurry of chances with five minutes left on the clock, but Lee Myung Ho somehow managed to dive left and right to protect the Korean goal. He was again well positioned a few minutes later to deflect a penalty-corner shot by Shea Mcaleese, and Korea could calmly weather the final minutes to end up with the win after a solid and impressive performance.

(Yan Huckendubler)

Olympic farce as keys to Wembley are lost..

Police in charge of keeping the Olympics safe have lost the keys to Wembley Stadium.
   Scotland Yard admitted last night that it was to blame for the shocking breach.
Search teams spent days desperately hunting for the keys after they were mislaid during the final preparations for the Games.
    Sources said it would cost up to £40,000 to replace the hi-tech laser keys. The latest fiasco threatened to further damage already fragile confidence in security arrangements for the Games.
   It also provoked a furious behind-the-scenes row between the police, Locog and private security firm G4S over who was responsible.
But late last night, Scotland Yard admitted a team of officers mislaid the ‘internal security keys’ during last minute checks.

Ticket touts disgrace..

Lots of empty rows at the Aquatics Centre in Stratford yesterday, even as Rebecca Adlington swam in her 400m freestyle heat and final

 Prized Olympic tickets entrusted to foreign delegations are being openly sold by touts on the streets of Britain, it emerged last night.
They are cashing in on the huge demand for seats by selling tickets sent overseas by Games organisers.
The revelation came as a row raged over embarrassing scenes of banks of empty seating at many Games venues – including last night’s swimming finals.
   The Yard confirmed that about 20 people had been arrested attempting to sell tickets since the opening ceremony on Friday.
Yesterday spectators who bought tickets for the Olympic Park, because all venues inside were sold out of lower-priced tickets, had the frustration of watching pictures on the big screen of unfilled seats.

Defending champions beat Belgium

By Yan Huckendubler

Netherland vs. Belgium: 3-0 (half-time: 1-0)

Second match of the day was between defending Olympic Champion, The Netherlands, ranked #1 in the world, and the Cinderella of the competition, Belgium, coming in the Olympic Games ranked 16th in the world. The Dutch women were loudly cheered by a huge contingent of fans all clad in orange, while the Belgian women looked tense during the anthems for their first ever match in Olympic competition.

As expected, The Netherlands dominated the early stages of the match without giving the impression of exerting themselves too much, circulating the ball wide of the Belgium defensive block. Maartje Paumen saw her first attempt at penalty-corner deflected on the post by young Aisling D'Hoogue in the Belgium goal, then Margot van Geffen followed up with a powerful shot that flew inches wide of the post. Play was limited to one half of the pitch, but the Dutch players could not beat the Belgium defense regrouped in the circle, and they peppered the outside of the goal when they had a chance to shoot.

They finally opened the score with only two minutes left in the period with a deflection from close range by Kim Lammers, receiving a perfect long ball from Eva de Goede, celebrating in style her 100th International Cap. The modest one-goal lead for The Netherlands at half-time was not reflecting the physiognomy of the game, but there was little doubt on the outcome of the contest.

The Dutch women continued their domination of play in second period, having most of the ball possession, and Kim Lammers scored her second goal of the match with another deflection from close range over the Belgian goalkeeper, this time on a pass from Ellen Hoog running around the Belgian defense on the right of the circle.

With rain suddenly starting to fall on London, pace of play abated a couple notches. The Netherlands scored a third goal on penalty-corner by Caia van Maasakker, a late addition to the Dutch team after the injury to Willemijn Bos, then rolled on to an easy win over a Belgian team which, to their credit, never gave up the fight, even forcing a penalty-corner in the last minute of play.

For more information on NED v BEL, click here.

China vs. Korea: 4-0 (half-time: 1-0)

First match of the midday session was between Asian rivals China (ranked 5th in the world) and Korea (ranked 8th). With rain falling steadily at the beginning of the match, it took some time for the crowd to get into cheering mode and for the match to pick up pace. Korea forced a penalty-corner in the opening minutes, but could not produce much from it.

Both teams were playing with similar styles, disciplined defense and swift counter-attacks, however creating very few clear opportunities for goal. China had a penalty-corner in the 15th minute, but Ma Yibo’s low shot for an option fizzled. They had another opportunity in the 25th minute and this time Ma Yibo slotted her flick high and out of reach of Moon Young Hui in the Korean goal.

With the sun making a timid return, the end of the period was much more animated, with a few hot situations in the Chinese circle, but no other goal was scored before half-time, reached with a meagre one-goal lead for the silver medallists from Beijing, and the impression was that the contest could go either way.

Korea started the second period faster to try and force the equalizer quickly. They swarmed the Chinese circle, had a chance on penalty-corner which was totally unsuccessful, kept pushing and had a better attempt on their next penalty-corner which was well covered by Zhang Yimeng in the Chinese goal. The Koreans were still trailing by the lone goal and seemed to be on the verge of equalizing when Zhao Yudiao made the most of a loose ball in the opposite circle to score the second Chinese goal and establish a more comfortable lead.

The Chinese players suddenly seemed to find their second wind and promptly earned a penalty-stroke. Li Hongxia made no mistake to push the score to 3-0, setting an insurmountable climb back for Korea. The game became rougher and the two teams traded cards, with China down to nine players for a few minutes. In the final minutes, Ma Yibo scored her second penalty-corner of the match (doubling on the first day of competition her goal-tally from Beijing, where she only scored once in 18 penalty-corner attempts) and China grabbed their first win with a comfortable margin (4-0).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Imposter joins India at Opening parade

Odd one out: Indian officials have demanded an apology after an unidentified woman, wearing a red top and turquoise trousers, led athletes through the Olympic stadium

It was supposed to be one of the proudest moments of their lives, the chance to show the world that they were ready to take part in the Olympics.

But India's athletes had the limelight stolen from them as they filed through the Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony - by an imposter who slipped through one of the tightest security operations Britain has ever seen.

The unidentified woman looked conspicuous in a red top and turquoise trousers as she walked with the team, who were all wearing yellow turbans or saris.
     Indian officials have made a complaint to London's Olympic organisers about the incident, during which the woman walked just to the right of the country's flag-bearer Sushil Kumar.
The woman was not wearing an identification badge and the team has demanded an apology.

India's acting chef-de-mission Muralidharan Raja said: 'She had no business being there. It was a clear case of intrusion.
    'She embarrassed us in front of the world. The Indian contingent was shown (on television) for just 10 seconds, and to think this lady hogged all the limelight.'
Mr Raja, asked if he believed the woman was an Indian, said: 'She could be Asian, Latin American, I don't know.'

Black coffee plse, not lassi...

By Mihir Vasavda

The first time Sardar Singh was told to drink black coffee half-an-hour before a match, he thought it was a joke. Minutes later, he realised David John, the Indian hockey team’s physio, was serious. Sardar drank the coffee reluctantly, but did not understand why he was being asked to do so.
    Some matches later, he noticed a change in his teammates and him. They were running faster, their reflexes improved considerably and their energy levels were high. The training routine remained the same. It was then that Sardar understood why John insisted that the team drank black coffee.
    It wasn’t easy for John and chief coach Michael Nobbs to convince a bunch of guys, who always gulped down glasses of lassi, to switch to black coffee. But it was necessary.
    “Black coffee acts as a stimulant and energises you... you turn out for your matches in a better frame of mind. It’s a physiological fact. It used to be a banned substance (by the World Anti-Doping Agency) for that very reason. But it’s not anymore and so, an hour before a match, the team has to have black coffee. They can also have plain milk without sugar,” John told DNA.
    The bitter drink alone is not the only reason why the team is among the fittest sides in the world.There has been a revolutionary change in the team’s training methods and a total overhaul of the diet.
    Unlike other teams, which prefer a carbohydrate-laden meal, the Indian players have been advised to increase their protein intake. Rice and potato, which used to be the core ingredient of each meal, are out. “It’s challenging for the vegetarians in the side (there are eight). However, they are good with their protein shakes,” John said.
    It wasn’t easy to convince the players. “Honestly, they didn’t a choice. After we won the first tournament (the Asian Champions Trophy in 2011) with this diet, they thought something’s going right. Maybe that’s why they adopted it. Had we lost, it would have been difficult to convince them. The win helped players realise the importance of diet,” said John, who has previously worked at the MRF pace academy in Chennai under Dennis Lillee.
    Nobbs and John have also introduced the concept of ‘hockey fitness’. The Australian duo has designed a programme which sees players at each position carry out specific exercises that optimises their performance. The full-backs and goalkeepers undergo exercises that involve a lot of lunging and lateral movement while the forwards are made to run more side-to-side. The training session lasts a maximum of 90 minutes.
   “In the past, they would run around athletic tracks and train more like field athletes. My fitness is developed through skills,” John said. “The results are visible. Our team can match any side fitness-wise. That gives a lot of confidence to the players and it translates on the field.”


Women's Hockey: New Zealand 1 Australia 0

The blue and pink Riverbank Arena was looking stunningly beautiful under the bright sunshine for the start of Olympic hockey. 
    The two teams from Oceania were first in action and the emotion of the players from New Zealand and Australia, who had trained for so long for this first match, was palpable during the anthems. 
    The Australians were nervous in the first minutes and conceded a penalty-corner on the first incursion of the New Zealanders in the circle, and Stacey Michelsen scored the first goal of the Olympic competition to give New Zealand an early lead.
    Australia quickly got rid of their early jitters and started to push back New Zealand on their heels. Megan Rivers thought that she had scored after the a superb run into the circle, but her powerful shot hit the post and nobody was on hand to use the rebound. 
    The game then settled in a balanced contest, between two teams very close in the FIH Rankings (6th for New Zealand, 7th for Australia) and knowing each other quite well.
    Anna Flanagan was close to tie the score for Australia with a powerful low shot on penalty-corner, but Black Sticks’ goalkeeper Bianca Russell saved it with an acrobatic dive. New Zealand successfully appealed to the video-umpire to avoid another penalty-corner late in the period, but were surprised in the last seconds by Anna Flanagan, who received a long ball behind the defense. Bianca Russell was once again up to the task and half-time was reached with the one-goal margin for New Zealand.
    The Black Sticks were once again faster off the starting blocks and Charlotte Harrison received an excellent ball from Katie Glynn but, alone in front of the goal, could not turn fast enough to beat Toni Cronk in the Australian goal. The match continued with end to end attacks, keeping well entertained the near capacity crowd, with very vocal contingents of Aussies and Kiwis. 
    Australia’s appeal to the video-umpire for a penalty-corner was rejected; however they soon played with an extra player when New Zealander Melody Cooper received a yellow card. They pushed forward, but the New Zealand defense weathered the storm quietly and the Aussies could not even generate a shot on goal.
    Despite playing short one player, New Zealand managed to force a penalty-corner after a long run by Gemma Flynn, but Katie Glynn’s flick was weak and the score did not evolve. With time running out, the Australians became more desperate in their attacks. Georgia Nanscawen, Casey Eastham and Hope Munro were very active upfront but the Black Sticks’ defense, efficiently backed by Bianca Russell, once again held tight.
     With two minutes to go, Australia replaced their goalkeeper with an extra field player. The gambit nearly paid off on their first attack, but it was too little too late and New Zealand earned the 3 points of the win on the benefit of their early goal.

(Yan Huckendubler)

Alexander the Kazakh Great!

After the stunning Opening Ceremony last night, all eyes have turned to the real Olympic action to see if the sport could provide the same kind of spectacle.
And if today's men's road race is anything to go by, Olympic fans are in for a memorable fortnight of twists, turns, and amazing surroundings.
The nail-biting race took in picturesque countryside and iconic London landmarks as cyclists ended the 156-mile course at breakneck pace.
Although the race ended in disappointment for Britain and favourite Mark Cavendish, the estimated one million fans who lined the route still created an electric atmosphere.

 Fight to the finish: Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov dashed Britain's hopes of an early gold medal by powering to victory over favourite Mark Cavendish

Dejected: Cavendish cannot hide his disappointment after finishing 29th in the race, as his girlfriend Peta Todd and their young daughter Delilah looked on

Banks of empty seats at key venues ..

Olympic bosses have promised to investigate major sponsors after banks of empty seats were spotted at several sold-out Games venues today.
Several high-profile venues, including the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park and the gymnastics arena in North Greenwich, had rows of empty seats during morning sessions on the first day of the Games.
Locog said they would be investigating why the seats were unfilled, while Lord Coe has reportedly promised to name and shame sponsors who did not find takers for the venues.