Olympics: Australia the team to beat in hockey at Rio

Sports Friday 05/August/2016 17:53 PM
By: Times News Service
Olympics: Australia the team to beat in hockey at Rio

Rio de Janerio: Germany might be the twice Olympic champions defending their men's field hockey title but top-ranked Australia will be the team to beat when the competition begins in Rio on Saturday.
Since 1992 Australia have won a medal at every Olympic tournament and the World Cup winners will be the favourites to clinch what would be their second gold medal.
The Kookaburras only managed bronze four years ago in London despite being overwhelming favourites, triggering a lot of soul searching from the men in gold and green.
"Yeah, we had to do a lot of long hard looking at ourselves, but it paid off ultimately," said 32-year-old Australia squad member Glenn Turner.
"Leading up to London we had trained really hard but there was a very different feel to the squad compared to this time around."
Mark Knowles and Jamie Dwyer, a five-time International Hockey Federation player of the year, provide Australia with a wealth of experience with Rio being their fourth Games.
Knowles said the team, who face New Zealand in their first match, would settle for nothing but gold in Brazil.
"When we go to the Olympic Games as the Australian men's hockey team we want to win, we don't want to get bronze, just make the semis or play off for fifth," he said.
Britain, Belgium, Spain and the hosts are also in Australia's group.
Germany, who triumphed in Beijing and London, are ranked third in the world. The squad chosen by head coach Valentin Altenburg contains five Olympic gold medallists from London.
The champions have been pooled with the Netherlands, Argentina, India, Ireland and Canada, with the top four teams from each group advancing to the quarter-finals.
Once-mighty India are the most decorated nation in the sport's Olympic history but the South Asians won the last of their eight gold medals way back at the Moscow Games in 1980.
Their strong build-up, claiming silver at the Champions Trophy, has again boosted optimism among fans in the nation of 1.25 billion people.
On the women's side, the Netherlands have captured seven world titles and been to every Olympics since 1984, winning three gold, one silver and three bronze medals.
The world's top-ranked side are heavy favourites to add to their gold medal tally in Rio.