2 Aug 2016

Hockey - an Enduring Olympic Team Sport

1:32 pm on 2 August 2016

Olympic Disciplines - Hockey was one of the first team sports to be introduced to the Olympics and has been a staple ever since.

Liz Thompson passes in her 100th match.

Blacks Sticks player Liz Thompson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Men first competed at the 1908 Games in London. It was later removed at the 1924 Paris Games because of the lack of an international sporting structure.

The International Hockey Federation was founded in Paris that year as a response and men's hockey became a permanent feature at the next Olympic Games, the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.

The first women's Olympic field hockey competition was held at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

A hockey team has 11 players, including a goalie, and the game is played outdoors on an artificial turf.

New Zealand's only Olympic medal was won in 1976 when the men's team, coached by Ross Gillespie, caused an upset in Montreal by beating Australia 1-0 to win gold.

Competition at Rio

Twelve men's teams and twelve women's teams will compete at Rio.

There are 16 players in each team, with 11 players on the turf at any one time.

Competition runs 7-20 August 2016 at the Olympic Hockey Center in Deodoro.

Preliminaries: Sunday 7 August to Tuesday 16 August

Semi-finals: Wednesday 17 August to Thursday 18 August

Finals: Bronze medal game Friday 19 August

Gold medal game Saturday 20 August

There are two pools of six teams. After pool play, the top two teams from each pool (based on points) progress to the semi-finals. The winners of each semi-final play in the gold medal match. The losers of each semi-final play in the bronze medal match. All remaining teams play-off for a final position in the tournament.

Games will comprise four 15 minute quarters (previously two 35 minute halves).

There will be 40 second time-outs following both penalty corner awards and the scoring of the goal - to enable replays for viewers and commentary analysis.

Stars in the Sport

In the men's game the Germans, Dutch and Australians are at the top of the ranking table and were all medalists at the 2012 London Olympics.

International players to keep an eye on are Germany's Moritz Furste who has a gold medal from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as well as the 2006 World Cup, and Australia's Mark Knowles who was awarded the FIH World Player of the Year in 2014 and has previously been named the World Young Player of the Year.

Closer to home, New Zealand captain Simon Child has etched his mark as one of the world's premier strikers with his unbelievable stick skills having devastating effects on opposition defences. After making his debut in 2005 as a 16-year-old, Simon was the youngest Black Stick to play 100 matches and is likely to become our most capped player.

In the women's game the Dutch team along with Australia and Argentina are ranked highest in the world, with New Zealand in fourth position.

High profile international stars include Holland's Maartje Paumen who won gold at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and was the tournament's top goal scorer at the 2010 and 2014 FIH World Cup.

Argentina has made big changes to their side since the London Olympics, and striker Carla Rebecchi and sisters Agustina and Florencia Habif are expected to be big threats for any opposition.

Mid-fielder Anita Punt is the speed-star in the New Zealand squad, with her times over 10m rating in the top eight of the men's squad.

Olympic hockey field diagram

Olympic hockey field diagram Photo: Supplied

Did you Know?

The Indian men's team dominated Olympic hockey between 1928-1956, with six consecutive titles, remaining unbeaten in 30 consecutive matches, scoring 197 goals, and giving away only eight.

All the Black Sticks players wear GPS units on the back of their shirts during a game. Petrea Webster and Anita Punt have run around 8.5km in about 55 minutes of play, which equates to 154m per minute.

A goalie wears a helmet, leg guards, kickers, chest guards, padded shorts, heavily-padded hand protectors, groin protectors, neck guards, arm guards, and like all players, they must carry a stick. It takes a goalie about 15 minutes to put all their gear on.

There are no left-handed sticks in field hockey and players may use only one side of the stick.

Black Stick George Muir can run 10m in 1.54 seconds, team-mate Kane Russell can run 40m in 4.70 seconds and Anita Punt can run 100m in 12.06 seconds.

There are 65,000 registered hockey players in New Zealand.