Road to Rio: Hockey World League R1 - Women - Hradec Králové (CZE)
The Hockey World League, the tournament that makes the dream of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a possibility for every hockey playing nation, returns to action this September. In the fourth of our Round 1 event previews, we head back to Czech Republic to look at the women’s tournament featuring the host nation (FIH World Ranking: 35), France (WR: 25), Austria (WR: 26) and Turkey (WR: 39) battling it out to claim a coveted place in Round 2.
With just 14 world ranking places between all four competing nations, the women’s competition in Hradec Králové has the potential to be closely contested and also completely unpredictable.
France and Austria are only one place apart in the rankings table and will be considered as the obvious front-runners. However, upsets are commonplace in the Hockey World League, a fact that France in particular know all too well. ‘Les Bleues’ failed to make it past the first round in the inaugural edition in 2012 thanks to a fifth place finish. That event took place in Prague, so they will be hoping for a much happier trip to Czech Republic this time around.
The first edition of the HWL was a far more enjoyable experience for Austria and Czech Republic, with both nations battling through Round 1 events on home soil before being eliminated in the second phase. Numerous members of the Austrian team play their club hockey in Germany’s fiercely competitive Bundesliga, while Czech Republic will certainly be keen to make home advantage count once again.
Turkey are the lowest ranked of the competing teams but have been training hard for this event and are not turning up just to make up the numbers. They will be determined to show that their star is very much on the rise, and know that the Hockey World League is the perfect place to make their mark.
You can keep track of the results from Hradec Králové on the official tournament microsite, with FIH.CH bringing a full summary of the action upon the completion of the event.
The second edition of the Hockey World League got underway earlier this year, with the women’s teams of Malaysia and Belarus emerging triumphant at respective Round 1 events in Singapore and Lithuania before Russia men stormed to victory in Croatia last month.
The September return will see no fewer than nine different Round 1 tournaments will take place over 13 action-packed days, with Czech Republic, Kenya, Bangladesh, Oman and Mexico playing host to the various men’s and women’s events. The remaining Round 1 competitions will be played in Jamaica (30 September - 5 October 2014) and Fiji (6-13 December 2014), both of which will feature men’s and women’s tournaments.
The winning team at each event is guaranteed a place in Round 2 of the Hockey World League, where they will be joined by a number of the highest-placed finishers from the Round 1 tournaments. Round 2 will also see the introduction of the teams placed from 12 to 19 in the FIH World Rankings with the sides ranked 1 to 11 starting their journey in Round 3, where tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as qualification for the Finals tournament are up for grabs.
More information about the Hockey World League and all of the upcoming events can be found by clicking here.