In the latest of our stories marking the original event dates of Tokyo 2020 we meet two Las Leonas legends. With more than 600 caps and five Olympic Games between them, the strike team of Delfina Merino (294 senior international appearances and two Olympic Games) and Carla Rebecchi (317 caps and three Olympic Games) are formidable opponents for any defence. And, as we hear during this conversation, the target for Tokyo 2020 is definitely gold.
Merino and Rebecchi took time out after a training session with the Argentina national team to talk about previous Olympic Games and their hopes for the future.
What is your best Olympic memory?
Carla Rebecchi: “My best Olympic memory is in my first Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, in the opening ceremony. It was very emotional moment. I remember at that moment I was thinking of everything I had done to get there. It was my dream since I was really young to get there. It was amazing and I cried a little, I remember.
What did you feel like when you were standing on the pitch listening to the national anthem at your first Olympics?
Carla Rebecchi: “My first match was against the USA, I was 23. It was very emotional, I was nervous and anxious in that moment, but also very excited. It was a great memory.”
How is Argentina preparing for the Olympic Games next year?
Delfina Merino: “The team is preparing in a good way. We are training a lot. (We just finished a training session actually). Of course this has been a special situation because we were not training because of the Corona Virus. Now we are starting to really train in earnest and we are looking forward to Tokyo next year.
What will it take for Las Leonas to finally win that elusive gold medal?
Defina Merino: “I think there are any things that have to happen for us to win. I think the most important is to make the team work together and to enjoy the process. To enjoy the way [journey] to the Olympics. So if we do our best as a team, do our best in training and all do it together, then we will have a good opportunity [to win the gold medal], I really hope.”
Olympic hockey through the ages
A look back at over 100 years of hockey at the Olympic Games
- Montreal 1976: After Germany broke the Asian stranglehold in 1972, it was perhaps surprising that neither European nor Asian teams would compete in the 1976 gold medal match, which was contested between Oceania rivals New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand’s Tony Ineson gave his side a 1-0 victory from the penalty spot in the first ever Olympic competition played on a synthetic surface.
- Moscow 1980: It may have been hit by boycotts, but hockey took a huge step forward by introducing the women’s competition in Moscow. Despite being invited just five weeks before the event, Zimbabwe won a fairy-tale gold medal, with Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union taking silver and bronze respectively. In the men’s event, India won their eighth gold medal by defeating Spain 4-3, which was played exactly 40 years ago today.
Tomorrow: Los Angeles 1984
On this day – 29 July 1984: Aside from India winning gold at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow (as mentioned above), it was also the first day of the men’s hockey competition at the Los Angeles 1984 Games. West Germany’s journey towards the men’s final started with a 3-1 Group A win against Spain, with Carsten Fischer, Reinhard Krull and Michael Peter scoring the goals. Germany would eventually finish with silver, losing 2-1 to Pakistan thanks to Kaleemullah Kahn’s goal in extra time.
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