Saturday, August 11, 2012

South Africa hand wooden spoon to India

(11th-12th) South Africa vs. India: 3-2 (half-time: 2-1)
South Africa went ahead in the 8th minute of play and never relinquished the lead, pushing back India into last place of the competition.
South Africa opened the scoring early by Andrew Cronje, finding the ball in a wild goalmouth scramble in front of PR Sreejesh in goal for India today, before Sandeep Singh equalized on penalty-corner, only his second goal of the tournament. His weak performance on the set-play, India’s most potent weapon in recent past, has certainly contributed to the Indian poor results in this competition.
Play was balanced and lively for the remainder of the period, with both teams launching spectacular runs with the ball. Sardar Singh gave glimpses of his immense class and Danish Mujtaba twice shot from close range, but Erasmus Pieterse was up to the task in the South African goal. It was finally Timothy Drummond who managed to break the deadlock, shovelling the ball under the Indian keeper in the final minute of the period to give South Africa a one-goal lead, and momentum, going into the halftime break.
Play resumed as animated in second period. Indian keeper PR Sreejesh had to clean-up a few times behind his permeable defense while Erasmus Pieterse was having a phenomenal match for South Africa, saving huge shots from SV Sunil and Dharamvir Singh. The match switched to overdrive in the final minutes, with goals from Lloyd Norris-Jones, receiving a gem ball from Wade Paton and slamming it in goal, before a goal by Dharamvir Singh reduced the gap to one goal.
India had a late desperate surge, but it was too little and certainly too late and they finished this competition with the wooden spoon, a far cry from their pre-Games expectation, when Captain Bharat Chetri was optimistically talking about a semi-final berth. South Africa finished 11th, one spot higher than their entry ranking. They will take away some strong performances against Great Britain (2-2), Spain (2-3) and Pakistan (4-5).
(Yan Huckendubler)

FIH Launches New Hockey World League

LONDON – The FIH used the backdrop of one of the grandest Olympic hockey events, the 2012 London Olympics, to introduce the future of international hockey – the Hockey World League.
    The four-round, two-year event will serve as the qualifier for both the Hockey World Cup and the Olympic Games and will be an all-inclusive, world-wide event that involves a never-before-seen number of nations taking part in FIH events on an international level.
   “I am very proud to launch the Hockey World League today,” FIH President Leandro Negre said at the launch on the day of the women’s Olympic gold medal game. “This has been a vision of the FIH’s for a long time and at last the day is here that we see it become a reality.”
    The first round will be made up of 11 tournaments with the historic first game taking place in just four days in the Czech Republic when the Scotland and Turkey women’s national teams meet on August 14.
     In total men’s and women’s national teams from over 60 nations will take part in the first edition of the Hockey World League. For 19 of the countries, it will be their first-ever appearance in an FIH competition.
    “Never before has an international hockey competition been open to such a wide range of teams and athletes,” Negre said.
   “We sit here in London ready to watch the gold medal game today and four years from now in Rio more than 2000 athletes will have been a part of the qualification process for the next Olympics. It is truly an exciting time for hockey.”
    Those 2,000 athletes will accumulate around 6,000 caps and will gather FIH World Ranking points that were never-before available. In addition, around 300 officials will have the chance to take part in the World League.
    “This is a two-tiered approach,” said FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather. “Not only does it give the FIH a clear qualification structure for the World Cup and Olympics, but it also provides a massive development opportunity for all areas of hockey. Who knows, what the hockey landscape will look like in Rio, maybe a team from Round 1 will be with us at the next Olympics.”


Final Standings

Dutch women delight...

Gold Medal Match: Netherlands vs Argentina 2-0 (half-time: 0-0)
The Netherlands painted the Riverbank Arena orange as they emulated the feat of four years ago in Beijing, winning the Olympic final 2-0 having been locked at 0-0 at the interval. That time it was China in Beijing; this time around, Argentina were the victims of a truly dominant performance after the break in London that did the damage as the South Americans could struggled to gain enough possession to cause a threat after an even first half showing could not separate the sides.
    Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel put the Netherlands in front with a sharp penalty corner rebound from Eva de Goede’s low drag-flick before Maartje Paumen provided the games enduring image. Goal-less throughout the group stages, she fired two vital semi-final goals and her second killed off any Argentine hope. The manner in which she did it was suitably spectacular, picking out the top corner with a truly thunderous drag-flick. From there, the Dutch were never likely to offer up a lifeline and they played out the closing quarter with the constant support of the orange hordes in the stands.
    It left Carlos Retegui and his side devastated after another near miss, their fourth successive medal but the gold still eludes. Among their number was Luciana Aymar whose silver makes her Argentina’s greatest ever-female Olympian and the first woman to medal in four Olympic hockey tournaments. But her 35thbirthday will remain a bitter memory as she was consoled at length by her team-mates.
    Chances were at a premium in the first half as both sides probed for openings but the two defences were on top for the most part. In a rousing opening, the Dutch did get two early sights, Eva de Goede’s reverse and a Naomi Van As baseline run wreaking havoc with Jonker hovering around in front of Florencia Mutio’s goalmouth.
   Delfina Merino and Florencia Habif combined to win the first corner that Noel Barrionuevo fired wide and Rosario Lucchetti reversed over from another decent chance. Late in the half, the pendulum swung back the Dutch direction but they were unable to cash in on either of their penalty corners, charging one Maartje Paumen flick down while her second, on the half-time hooter, rebounded to Van As but her near post shot was comfortably stopped by Mutio.
    The second half was more clear-cut, however, as the Dutch earned a string of corners. From the fourth, the Dutch went ahead though Argentina felt they should have had a free in the build-up, arguing at length, though any review was barred as their claims fell outside the 25-metre line.
    Dirkse van der Heuvel duly popped in the rebound from the subsequent corner. Argentina did respond immediately, earning their only corner of the half but Silvina D’Elia’s effort was charged down, allowing the Dutch to counter at pace. And soon after, Paumen had her moment, going past Alyson Annan’s prior record of 13 Olympic goals in the most emphatic way possible, taking gold with it.


Paul Lopez helps beat Unified Team...

OLYMPIAN Paul Lopez only played one match in the 1996  Barcelona Olympics, but he savoured every minute as he  stood between the posts when Malaysia beat the Unified Team for the ninth spot.
    “In Barcelona, out of the five Group B matches, we only  beat New Zealand 3-2 and were paired against Argentina in  the 9th-12th classification and won 6-4.
    “Ahmad Fadzil was the first choice goalkeeper and he  played six matches while I was only fielded in the last  match.
   “I was very nervous as all this while I was only warming the  bench, but after a few minutes, I became confident and it was  the best game of my life as we beat the Unified Team 4-3 to  finish ninth best in the world,” said Lopez.
    Unified Team?
    The Unified Team at the 1992 Olympics was a joint team  consisting of twelve of the fifteen former Soviet republics.  Only Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania competed separately.
    “We lost 7-3 to the Unified Team in the Group B match, but  everybody in the squad were determined not to end up 10th,  and gave one of their best performances to beat the combined  strength of twelve Soviet Republics,” said Lopez.
    Among his team-mates were household names Mirnawan  Nawawi, Sarjit Singh, Nor Saiful Zaini, Abdul Hadi, Tai Beng  Hai and Lim Chiow Chuan.
   Lopez contributes his success in hockey to his employers  Maybank.
   “Honestly, without the support of my employers Maybank,  I and many others would not have had the chance to give so  much of time to hockey.
   “And today, I feel sad because it is no longer the culture  among banks and corporate bodies to support hockey in a big  way. We only hear of two corporate bodies (Tenaga Nasional  and Sapura) and Maybank still actively employing hockey  players and keeping the Malaysia Hockey League alive.
   “In my playing days, if you can play hockey, employment  was not a problem and it was one of the encouraging factors  which saw Malaysia qualify consistently in the Olympics and  World Cups,” said Lopez.
    Malaysia hockey has qualified for 10 Olympic Games,  although they boycotted Moscow 1980 over the Russian  invasion of Afghanistan.
     Lopez is featured in NSTP’s ‘Honouring Our Olympians - -  A Visual Tribute’ ongoing exhibition at Bangsar Shopping   Centre.

The van Huizen Olympic flame...

THE family Olympic torch was first lit by his father in Tokyo  1964, and Stephen van Huizen went on savour his own  moment in Los Angeles 1984 to continue the legacy.
     “My father (Lawrence Van Huizen) played in the 1964  Olympics and it inspired me to follow his footsteps. As he  always said ‘once and Olympian, always an Olympian’,” said  Stephen.
    And Stephen still leads the strict life of a an athlete, even  after he went on to coach the Malaysian hockey team in  Sydney 2000.
    “It is a totally different feeling when one plays or coaches in  the Olympics. It opens the mind to a different perspective and  the moment is to savour for life. Nobody can take the  Olympian feeling out of you for life,” said Stephen.
   His moment as a player was being in the stadium watching  Carl Lewis winning the 100m sprints clocking 9.99s in Los  Angeles, and then as a coach, he got a photo opportunity with  Mohamed Ali at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Games Village.
   Stephen played and coached hockey at every level, con tinuing the traditions of the Van Huizen hockey pedigree.
    He was captain of the 1979 Junior World Cup in Paris, he  played for Malaysia in the 1982 and 1986 Asian Games, and  1984 Olympics and 1982 World Cup. He reached the pinnacle  of his playing career by being Captain of the team to the 86  Asian Games.
    As a coach, he was assistant to Terry Walsh at the 1992  Barcelona Olympics, to Volker Knapp at the 1996 Atlanta  Olympics and 1998 World Cup and to Paul Lissek in the 1998  Commonwealth Games and 2002 World Cup.
    He was the national coach for the 1998 Asian Games and  2000 Sydney Olympics.
     Today, he is glued to the television after working hours: “Of  course I watched hockey a lot, but this time, I also surprised  myself by being an avid fan of archery and beach volleyball.
    “Archery was  never a personal favourite, until I saw how  difficult it was to hit the bull and win by one arrow. The gold  medallists had nerves of steel and this impressed me.
    “Beach volleyball is a crowd favourite in London, and one  needs to be very fit to be able to lay their hands on the  Olympic gold medal,” said Stephen.

   Stephen scored two penalty stroke goals in the shoot-out  against United States for the 11-12th position. The match had  ended 3-3 and went to 10 strokes and Malaysia finally won 9- 8.
   Stephen is featured in NSTP’s ‘Honouring Our Olympians - - A Visual Tribute’ ongoing exhibition at Bangsar Shopping  Centre.