As Augusts draws approaches, so does the 2016 Rio de Summer Olympics. And for field hockey fans like us that means a showdown between the greatest field hockey players in the world! This year the 12 top countries will assemble their finest players compete for the Olympic gold medal. So, lets have a look at why is the Summer Olympics such a big deal for field hockey ?
Well one of the main reasons, asides from the fact that its an enormous international sporting event, is that field hockey is not a fully professional sport, that means this is as big as it gets for the moment. Players don’t have massive money contracts to play in their countries competition like NBA players, but rather compete because of the love of the sport and the countries that get behind them as sponsors.
This all being said, what can we expect this year ? Who are the favorites and what can history tell us about what might go down this year? Well in order to answer these questions Best-Field Hockey Sticks have put together some great stats in order to some insight into the games.
Lets first look at this first graph,
Total Field Hockey Olympic Medals by Country
This graph includes both men’s and women’s results from past Olympic games. We can clearly see that the Netherlands has won the most Olympic medals for field hockey throughout Olympic history and a very even spread between Gold, Silver and Bronze. This is not surprising as the Netherlands are extremely involved in the sport. Other countries right up there are Australia, India, Germany, Pakistan and Great Britain. India appears to be the stand out leader in gold medals, which indicates they can perform well in a final and clearly have a strong history in the Olympics, with 8 field hockey gold medals, far more than any other country, that is an achievement to be proud of, but is it going to help them out when it comes to Rio 2016? Australia, Germany and Pakistan have all managed a reasonable spread of medals over the years, indicating that they are competitive teams not unfamiliar with reaching the playoffs, however it seems we are going to have to look at some more data to understand this years games.
The first graph has shown us the countries total medal tally and medal type, indicating the strength of the nation’s in relation to hockey, but one thing we are missing is the gender break down.
An interesting breakdown here of the gold medal wins by gender, it looks like the two strongest countries for the women are the Netherlands and Australia, not too surprising given our initial analysis, as we saw these were both field hockey countries. The gold medals for the men is an interesting story however, India clearly dominating, followed by a second grouping of gold medal winners having 2 or 3 each, namely Pakistan, Germany, Netherlands and Great Britain. This shows that India’s women’s team is nowhere near as competitive as the men’s, but also the Australian women’s teams have been slightly more successful than the men. While looking at total medal count is nice, for the best predictor for this year, we really need to look at the most recent games to see what players and teams are going to still be around and competitive.
This final graph shows us who has been hot the last few Olympics. For the men, Germany have one the last two golds, silver medals have gone to the Netherlands an Spain, with Australia receiving the bronze medals. For the women the Netherlands have won both gold, with China and Argentina grabbing silvers, Great Britain and Argentina grabbing bronze. Even more recent data than this though is the world International Hockey Federation rankings.
The latest international rankings show that, for the men, Australia, Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain are likely to be favorites this year at Rio. For the women, it looks like there will be no surprises either with the Netherlands, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand making up the current top four nations.
Lastly to finish off this commentary lets have a look at the total pool of teams that have qualified for the games this year. Although we know the favorites it all comes down to how the teams perform on the day and what special training they have been doing in preparation for Rio 2016!