The Indian Women hockey team post getting a confirmation from FIH on their qualification to RIO Olympics 2016 are ecstatic on their historic achievement.
The women team will be featuring in the all important tournament after a gap of 36 years post earning the place through a rigorous qualification process. The Indian Women Hockey team last time featured in the Moscow 1980 Olympics, where they finished at a respectable 4th position.
The team posted a 5th place finish in the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final 2015 in Antwerp, Belgium to ensure that they remained in contention for the Olympics. The berth was confirmed when Spain lost the semi final clash between England and Spain during the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 (Women) held on 28 August 2015. While the former already had a confirmed seat at Rio, a win for Spain would have meant they would have progressed through to the final and stayed in contention for qualification for the Olympic Games. Other semi-finalists of the EuroHockey Championships (Women) – The Netherlands and Germany – had also already sealed their places during the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final Round 2015.
The confirmation of the Indian Women Hockey Team’s qualification was received in the early hours on Saturday 29 August 2015 from the International Hockey Federation. Players of the Women Hockey Team are ecstatic following the news yesterday
A very happy Indian Captain Ritu Rani said, “It’s a dream come true. I am still in the process of realizing that we have made it to Olympics. We were aware that the outcome of the match between England and Spain will confirm our position for the Games next year and we had been waiting for the results. We were overjoyed when we came to know that we have qualified. This is a lifetime moment for each player and we will ensure that we make it more memorable by giving it a podium finish.”
Overjoyed on the qualification, Indian forward Rani Rampal added: “This is just so unbelievable. While we were sure of a berth but now that this has happened it is still hard to believe. We had been playing and practicing for this moment for many years now. Many in the team were aware that it would be the last opportunity to achieve our dream and play in the Olympics and this time we were adamant that we will make this happen. What adds more joy to this feat was my goal against Japan during the FINTRO FIH Hockey World League at Antwerp which helped us put the pressure on them and finally nailing the game in our favor.”
Speaking on the qualification, Indian goalkeeper Savita said “I still remember the game against Japan during the FINTRO FIH Hockey World League at Antwerp. We knew a win would keep us in contention and so in a way I had to ensure that Japan did not find the nets. While we had scored early, the job from there was to defend that one goal. Each one of us took it on oneself that we will defend it and not allow them to score. I think it was everyone’s effort that day which has allowed us to see this beautiful day today. From here there is no looking back. We will make this qualification count and will make the country proud”.
Indian Vice Captain Deepika said “This year we had taken it on ourselves that we will not let this opportunity go and when we were playing the 5th / 6th position of the FINTRO FIH Hockey World League we knew that it is a ‘do and die’ situation for us and a win would keep us in contention. Before the match each one of us were aware that we have to stand up tall today and not allow the pressure to take over us. The first aim was to score the initial goal and which thanks to Rani we did it and the second aim was to defend that goal without losing focus. It was not an easy game as Japan was also playing with the same goal but it was possible because we stood up as a unit. Next year we will ensure that we add another feather by aiming for a podium finish”.
Speaking on the qualification, Chief Coach Mathias Ahrens said “When I came on board my immediate focus was to see that the team qualifies for the Games next year. During every game at Antwerp I reminded the players that this is their chance to RIO. They have to deliver to see their dreams come true. I am happy that I was able to motivate and guide them, which has ensured us this spot in the RIO Olympics 2016. From here now my job will be to see that they make the country proud through their performance”.
Among the final 12 places in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, ten teams have booked their berths till now. Korea (2014 Incheon Asian Games champion), Great Britain, China, Germany, Argentina, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand (top finishers of the 2015 FIH HWL Semi-Final Round which took place in Antwerp and Valencia) and United States (2015 Toronto Pan-American Games champion) and India now becoming the 10th team to qualify. The last two participating teams will be confirmed in the 2015 African Qualifying Tournament in Egypt and 2015 Oceania Cup in New Zealand.
The 2016 Summer Olympics will start with a glittering Opening Ceremony on 5th August at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro and the Indian Women team will commence its outing from 7th August 2016.