Eulogise Europe!

Michael Nobbs, India’s coach, reckons that the way the competition panned out was a reward for the administrative structure in Europe, Australia and even in New Zealand. He cannot be more correct in this observation. There is a total lack of professionalism, proficiency and planning in the sub-continent, once a force to reckon with. An analysis by S. Thyagarajan.

The hockey competitions at the Olympiad in London emphatically established Europe’s hegemony with five of the top six among the men and all three women medallists coming from the continent.

Michael Nobbs, India’s coach, reckons that the way the competition panned out was a reward for the administrative structure in Europe, Australia and even in New Zealand. He cannot be more correct in this observation. There is a total lack of professionalism, proficiency and planning in the sub-continent, once a force to reckon with.

What fascinated followers were the twists and turns, especially in Pool A. Taken on the whole, an introspection reveals the swirling current of fortunes. True, Ric Charlesworth and his men began as the favourites, hammering South Africa with a tennis score of 6-0 but ended the event with a bronze.

Suddenly, the focus shifted to Pool B where the awesome form displayed by the Dutch pointed their way to the gold. And what a thrashing they offered to the home team, GB! The 9-2 margin in the semi-final tells a devastating tale.

But everything was nullified by the magnificent Germans who roared to the top of the podium to retain the prestigious Gold.

And the man whose name is to be etched in gold for the triumph was the little known Jan Philipp Rebente who netted the match winner for a 2-1 triumph. Interestingly, Germany lost the league encounter in Pool B to the Dutch 1-3.

Even teams like Belgium and Spain began asserting themselves now and then. The former’s 3-0 win against India came after a classic display of attacking hockey. And Spain, despite the injury to its trump card, Santi Friexa, missed the semi-final berth against GB by a whisker in a contest that provoked a debate in the final minutes. GB failed in the hunt for a medal which looked within its reach in the pre-tournament assessment.

Both Korea and Pakistan struggled to make an impression with the quality coursing through high and low points. Pakistan won two matches but suffered a humiliating 0-7 defeat against the Aussies.

Apart from beating India, the Koreans hardly did anything worth the while. The surprise packet was New Zealand. But all the hopes it created prior to the start evaporated after it beat India and Korea. A ninth spot for the Kiwis was hardly a consolation.

What the men failed to accomplish the Dutch women did in style by retaining the gold. But the European supremacy in this section was tempered a bit thanks to the fighting displays of Argentina, the silver medallist, and the Kiwis, who almost stopped the Netherlands in their tracks after a 2-2 draw in the semi-final. However, New Zealand went down in the tie-breaker.

Even China and Japan did their best to keep the interest alive. The women’s competition at least underscored the spread of the power balance across the globe. The next test for the teams comes in the World Cup in 2014 at The Hague, the home turf for the Dutch.