The Indian women’s hockey team has qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It qualified after England defeated Spain in the semi-finals of the Euro Hockey Championships in London, which means that the only teams which can now win the event – Netherlands or England – have already qualified for Rio through the World League Semi-Finals.
The Indian team required these two teams to reach the final of the European Championships in order to confirm their qualification.
The International Hockey Federation said on its website that the winner of the Euro Hockey Championships will qualify for the Olympics as European continental champions, opening up a further qualification spot which India has secured as the team which had ranked highest among the not qualified teams at the World League Semi-Finals.
Indian women’s team now joins nine other teams, who have already qualified for 2016 Rio Games — Korea as Asian Games champions, Argentina as Pan Am Games champions and Great Britain, China, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and the USA through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.
Indian women’s hockey team last featured in an Olympics in the 1980 Moscow Games, where they finished at a respectable fourth position.
Hockey India applauded the historic achievement of the women’s hockey team.
“It is a proud moment for Hockey India and the whole country. We have been waiting for this for the last 36 years and this achievement is the sweetest and the most memorable among all our previous feats in recent times,” HI President Narinder Batra said in a release.
“I congratulate all the players and coaching staff who made this dream real and this achievement also shows their commitment toward their responsibilities. Hockey India thanks all the coaches who trained these players at their respective academies, parents, sponsors and the entire hockey fraternity, who continuously motivated the players and without their support, we could not have achieved this success. I am sure the girls will make us proud at the Olympics,” he said.
Hockey India Secretary General Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad said: “The Olympics qualification is indeed a great achievement for the Indian Women Team and the Indian hockey fraternity. The players and the Coaching Staff have done a commendable job and they are still training hard for the 2016 Olympic Games. Hockey India is doing its part and fulfilling all the requirements of the team.
“I congratulate the whole team and the people who have been working hard behind the scene to achieve this success. However, the job is still half done and the team now has to set a new aim of clinching the first Olympic medal,” he said.
India are the 10th team to qualify for Rio Olympics. The last two participating teams will be confirmed in the 2015 Africa Cup for Nations in Egypt and 2015 Oceania Cup in New Zealand in November.