Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hockey escape Olympics exit

New Delhi: Officials and former players associated with the game of hockey expressed shock on learning that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mulled to remove hockey from the Olympic programme in 2020 but eventually put wrestling in the group of 8 sports fighting for one spot.

    TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping and global popularity were the factors assessed by IOC's programme commission before deciding to put baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, wrestling and wushu on the slicing table.
   "It's the pinnacle of our game and if we were no longer an Olympic sport, it would be crushing for our players," England Hockey chief executive Sally Munday told BBC.
   According to BBC, hockey was one of the five sports facing the heat at the meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday, and was still under threat after early round of voting in which canoeing and taekwondo survived. Hockey survived a close shave in the penultimate round of three sports, where it contested with wrestling and modern pentathlon.
   "Hockey is one of the core sports of the Olympic Games and has been for a very long time, and following the huge success of hockey at last summer's Olympics in London, it was a bit of a shock to hear that hockey was in the bottom five," a surprised Munday told BBC. "As far as hockey is concerned, the success at London was massive and it was the third biggest sport in terms of ticket numbers. Over 630,000 were sold for the Games," she added.
   Former India Olympian Jagbir Singh also seemed annoyed hearing the news. "Just have a look at the viewership of the Hockey India League (HIL) and you will know how popular this game is," he told Times of India. "If they were thinking of removing hockey as an Olympic sport, they better forget it."


Champs move into Milo Cup knock-out..

THE Division Two semi-finals of of the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League is expected to be explosive affairs as the winners will move into the knock-out stage of the Milo Cup.
     The one-match playoff semi-final winners will join six teams from Division One for the knock-out challenge, making the final on Sunday a money making adventure.
    This is because the champions will receive RM12,000, silver medallists RM8,500, while the third spot has a tag of RM7,000 and the fourth spot RM6,000.
   Group A champions Kelantan will square off against Politeknik KPT in one semi final while the other will see Group B champions KL Sports School battling against Anderson Juniors.
    And on paper, Kelantan and KL Sports School have a slight advantage over their opponents as both teams ended undefeated after eight matches in their respective groups.
     Kelantan also hold the distinction of scoring 38 goals and conceding only 10, and won all their matches with relative ease, considering Kelantan does not even have an artificial pitch.
   Their opponents Politeknik KPT are no pushovers as well as they only lost one match in Group B, a narrow 2-1 defeat to eventual table toppers KLSS.
     The second semis will see players from two project schools up against each other.
     TODAY: Semi-finals: Kelantan v Politeknik KPT (5pm, Pitch I), KL Sports School v Anderson Juniors 5pm, Pitch II).

22nd time lucky?

Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin in a failed attempt at the Irish goalmouth. Picture by MOHD HELMI DAWI
THE Azlan Shah Cup dream could turn out to be a nightmare yet again, even as Malaysia move into high gear for the Invitational tournament which will be held in Ipoh on March 9-17.
   For back in the fray are World No 2 Australia, who sat out last year, and also defending champions New Zealand who grabbed the title by edging Argentina 1-0 last year.
   Malaysia have never won the Cup even after playing in the tournament 21 times, and the 22nd Edition is expected to be no different.
    But the title would not matter is Malaysia beat the three Asian teams in Pakistan, India and South Korea, as  they will be meeting the trio again in the Asia Cup in Ipoh on Aug 24-Sept 1.
    “The team have been moving nicely since we last played in the Champions Challenge I in Argentina, and the three wins against Ireland were a big boost ahead of the Azlan Shah Cup.
    “However, we need a few more training sessions as well as matches before we name the final squad for the Azlan Shah Cup,” said assistant coach Arul Selvaraj.
    Malaysia, even though without No 1 goalkeeper S. Kumar, striker Faizal Saari and defender Baljit Singh; still managed to beat Ireland 4-2, 3-0 and 3-1 in the three recent Tests.
    “Everybody has been giving their best in training as well as matches and it would be tough to select the final 18. That is a good sign that the team is progressing well.
   “We know the score, that we need to get results against the three Asian team as we will be playing them again in the Asia Cup for the single ticket to the World Cup,” said Arul.
     The three Tests showed Malaysia have fallen back in their penalty corner conversions, as many went to waste, and this is one are that needs to be sharper to produce results in both the tournaments in Ipoh.