The teams head to London with different form, but united in their goal to reach the podium. Australia is yet to come away from the Games with a golden sweep but perhaps the iconic blue turf at London’s riverbank arena could produce the magic.
The Kookaburras enter the Olympics as the World Number One Team. They have unfinished business after pocketing bronze at the 2008 Olympics, and since then they have shown all the form to turn that into gold. The boys completed a hat-trick of titles in 2010, winning the World Cup, Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games. In 2012 they went on to become the first team to win the Champions Trophy four years in a row.
At the 2012 London Test Event Germany edged out an under-strength Australian line-up twice. Coach Ric Charlesworth insisted Germany was the benchmark. Then weeks later the Australians went on to roll the World Number Two side in a test series on their own turf in Mannheim, Germany.
Kookaburras captain Jamie Dwyer and cousin Matt Gohdes are set to cause double trouble for any opposition. Stalwart Des Abbot's cousin Joel Carroll is also on debut, but unfortunately Abbott had to withdraw from the London campaign in July. Abbott was replaced by Russell Ford.
The Australian Team will be one of the youngest in London, with an average age of 25. The team is bursting with potential and their coach Adam Commens describes this Olympiad as “an exciting time for the future of the Hockeyroos.” The girls go into the Games in an unfamiliar position ranked World Number Seven, and with a few unfamiliar faces, but don’t let that underdog tag put you off. When at their best there is no stopping these Aussie women.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallists have had success over many teams in their pool including a thrilling victory over Germany in the semi-final of the London Cup in June. To reach the finals the Hockeyroos need to survive ‘the pool of death’ which includes three teams ranked higher than them in Argentina (No.2), Germany (No.3) and New Zealand (No.6).
Six Beijing Olympians form the nucleus of the squad in Teneal Attard, Casey Eastham, Kobie McGurk, Hope Munro, Megan Rivers and captain, Madonna Blyth. The rise of dynamic 20-year-olds Anna Flanagan and Georgia Nansawen has been an asset to the Hockeyroos in the last two years. Their respective defensive and striking abilities combined with the toughness of Jodie Schulz will be key to this new-look Olympic outfit.
At the Olympic Games there are 12 teams in the men’s and women’s competitions. Teams are split into two pools of six for the preliminary rounds. The top two teams in each pool progress to the semi-finals while the remaining teams play for classification 5-12. Winners of the semi-finals play for the gold medal, and losers of the semi-final play for the bronze.
The Olympic draw was unveiled on 22 May, 2012. Times listed are London Time (AET is +9hrs). Australia's draw is:
Men's Pool A draw:
Monday 30 July (1045): AUS vs South Africa (No.12)
Wednesday 1 August (0830): AUS vs Spain (No.5)
Friday 3 August (0830): AUS vs Argentina (No.9)
Sunday 5 August (1900): AUS vs Great Britain (No.4)
Tuesday 7 August (0830): AUS vs Pakistan (No.8)
Men's Pool B: Germany (No.2), Netherlands (No.3), Korea (No.6), New Zealand (No.7), India (No.10), (No.11)
Women's Pool B draw:
Sunday 29 July (0830): AUS vs New Zealand (No.6)
Tuesday 31 July (2115): AUS vs Germany (No.3)
Thursday 2 August (1045): AUS vs USA (No.10)
Sunday 4 August (0830): AUS vs South Africa (No.12)
Monday 6 August (2115): AUS vs Argentina (No.2)
Women's Pool A: Netherlands (No.1), Great Britain (No.4), China (No.5), Korea (No.8), Japan (No.9), Belgium (No.16)
How many players are in each team?
There are 11 players from each team allowed on a hockey field, including the goalkeeper. Olympic rosters are limited to 16 players but substitutions can be made throughout the two 35-minute periods.
What happens if there is a draw?
If scores are level at the end of a final or play-off, matches go into extra time. Two, seven-and-a-half minute "sudden death" periods are played, with the first goal ending the match. If a result is still not reached each team selects five players for a penalty stroke shoot-out.
AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC HISTORY
Australia’s record in Olympic hockey is exceptional. The first Australian men’s team competed in Melbourne 1956 and since then they have finished no lower than sixth. The Kookaburras won bronze medals at Tokyo 1964, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, silver medals at Mexico City 1968, Montreal 1976 and Barcelona 1992 and finally the gold medal in Athens in 2004. In Beijing 2008, the men came home with bronze.
Following the tracks of the Kookaburras, the Hockeyroos won the Olympic title at Seoul 1988, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.
To read more about Australia’s Olympic hockey history, click here>>>