While Indian men’s hockey team has already qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics by virtue of their victory in the 2014 Asian Games; their women counterparts are still waiting for the results of several ongoing and upcoming events for their chances. If these external factors work India’s way, the Indian National Women’s Team could take part in Olympic Games after 36 years. The last time they did so; was in 1980 Moscow Olympics. If India had finished third in the recently concluded Hockey World League semifinals at Antwerp, it was straightforward for them. But after they failed to do that, the fifth-place finish also gives them a chance since the final 12 positions are yet to be decided. The final picture will emerge at the end of continental championships in October 2015. On paper, India’s chances look good after their 1-0 win over Japan at HWL Antwerp that ended with Indian finishing no.5 in the tournament.
Ironically, the chances of Indian women hockey team going to 2016 Rio Olympics have nothing to do with their own performance. After the Olympic qualification events for women at Valencia and Antwerp, 7 national teams have already qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics and 5 spots are still vacant. The qualifiers are; Great Britain, China, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and Argentina with Korea getting automatic qualification from their victory in the 2014 Asian Games. India’s women hockey team will boost their chances of Olympic qualification if the following scenarios come true.
- Argentina or USA should emerge champions in the ongoing Pan-Am Games that conclude on July 26, 2015. This is very strong possibility because the world rankings of other nations are too low and American women are the defending champions. Earlier. Argentina had won at Pan-Am games six times consecutively.
- In European Championship to be played during August 16-30, 2015; victory to any team out of Great Britain, Germany and Netherlands will free up a spot because all these teams have already qualified. These three are strong teams and other participants don’t have any chances. So far, one of these three teams has always been the winner in tournament’ history.
- In the Oceania Cup of October 21-25, 2015 if either Australia or New Zealand emerge the winner another spot will be freed up. In contrast to Australia and New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu don’t have the ability to cause upsets. Since the start of the tournament in 1999, one out of these two have been the winner.
If Brazilian women’s hockey team had participated in the Pan-Am Games and finished outside 6th, they had to forfeit their spot even if they are a host nation for the next Olympics. But being the 49th ranked team in the world, they could not qualify even in the Pan American Championships. And they are already out of the Rio Olympics, that spot has been freed to India’s advantage. Another factor that enhanced Indian women’s Olympic chances in hockey was Spain’s finishing 6th in Valencia. Since India are ranked higher than Spain, India’s 5th place finish at Antwerp have vastly brightened their chances. Barring unforeseen circumstances, India’s women hockey team should march to the Rio Olympics next year.