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Rediff.com  » Sports » Chak De! Indian women's hockey team qualifies for Rio Olympics

Chak De! Indian women's hockey team qualifies for Rio Olympics

August 29, 2015 10:20 IST

The Indian women's hockey team will return to the Olympics after a long gap of 36 years as it qualified for next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, on Saturday, after England made it to the final of the ongoing EuroHockey Championships in London.

England's semi-final victory over Spain, coming after the Netherlands' win over Germany in the other semi-final in the European Championships freed one quota place as both the finalists have already qualified for the Olympic Games.

India took the quota place on the basis of its fifth-place finish in the women's Hockey World League semi-finals in Antwerp, Belgium last month.

International Hockey Federation (FIH) confirmed that Indian women's team has qualified for the Rio Games.

"India qualified after England defeated Spain in the semi-finals of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in London, which ensured that the only teams -- The Netherlands and England (as Great Britain) -- who can now win the event have already qualified for Rio through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals," the FIH said in a statement.

"The winner of the EuroHockey Championships will qualify for the 2016 Olympics as European continental champions, opening up a further qualification spot which India secure as the team who ranked highest at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals not already qualified," it said.

The Indian women's team join 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 US, who made it through the Hockey World League semi-finals.

The 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.

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.

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