Indian women's hockey team almost assured of 2016 Rio Olympics spot
The defeat of the Canadian women's hockey team by USA in the semi-final of the Pan American Games in Toronto on Thursday to confirm the United States' place in the final and thus their place in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games also virtually confirmed India’s spot for Rio de Janeiro as they are now the next higher ranked team from the Hockey World League Semifinals with three more Continental championships to go.
If any of the already qualified teams win their Continental championships, to be finalised by the end of October, India will confirm their spot for the 12-team competition.
If USA win Friday’s final in Toronto, they qualify for Rio as Continental champions. If they lose, they will still get through as Argentina have already qualified and USA are the next highest ranked team in the Hockey World League.
Both USA and India had finished fifth in the two Hockey World League Semifinals at Valencia and Antwerp respectively but USA are ranked higher (8th as compared to 13th of India) and thus were the first stand-by.
The Indian women have played in the Olympics only once – the 1980 event in Moscow where they lost 1-3 to the Soviet Union in the bronze medal match.
India’s spot for Rio will be confirmed if either of Netherlands, Germany, or England win the Euro Nations Championships starting on August 30 in London. They will have to wait for a few more days in case Belgium, ranked 12th in the World in the latest rankings issued on Thursday, or Spain win the European championship ahead of higher ranked teams.
In case they miss their berth because of a huge upset at the European Championship, India can get through the Oceania Cup in October as both Australia and New Zealand (ranked two and four in the latest rankings) have already qualified.
The only scenario in which India will fail to get their ticket to Rio is if both Australia and New Zealand are toppled by Fiji and Samoa, both of whom don’t even figure in the top 35 in world rankings, in the 9th Oceania Cup to be held from October 21-25 at Stratford, New Zealand.