TORONTO: The Canadian men’s field hockey team is going back to the Olympic Games. By winning its semifinal match and advancing to the 2015 Pan American Games field hockey final against Argentina, Canada has secured a spot to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“As a (field) hockey player and for a lot of amateur athletes, the Olympics is the ultimate experience in your sporting career,” says Canadian captain Scott Tupper, who competed at the 2008 Olympics and is one of two former Olympians on the team. “Having been to one and knowing how special it can be and what’s it’s like, then having to sit one out and watch (2012) was definitely the low point of my career.
“To be going back in a leadership role … it’s really special. I think it will truly truly sink in over the next few days and the next few weeks, that we’ve got a really fantastic year of build up to come and the excitement that goes with preparing for an Olympic Games and ultimately competing in one.”
A combination of Canada winning its semifinal match against Brazil, and Argentina winning its semifinal against Chile means the Canadians – no matter what happens in the final match – get a ticket to Rio in 2016.
Canada joins eight other nations who have qualified for the 2016 Games. Twelve teams in total will compete in the field hockey competition in Rio.
“The Olympics has been a goal for our team from (the end) of Guadalajara four years ago” says Adam Froese, who scored the shootout winner in Canada’s Olympic clinching 5-4 semifinal shootout win over Brazil. “We’ve been working really hard as a group. The guys here, the guys who aren’t on the team today, we’ve all worked really hard. This is just a moment for all of us to enjoy those hard hours that we put in.”
Canada reached the point of Olympic qualification through a strong finish at the World League Semifinal in Argentina in June. At that tournament, the Canadians – who are ranked fifteenth in the world – upset two teams (Spain and New Zealand) higher than them in the standings, leading to a fourth place finish and a virtually guaranteed spot in Rio.
The Canadians last competed in the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing, China, where they finished tenth.
For more information on the field hockey qualification streams for Rio 2016, click here.
Canada will face Argentina in the Pan American Games gold medal match on Saturday at 7:30pm ET. The game will be live streamed at http://cbc.ca/panam. It will be the eleventh straight year the two teams meet in the Pan Am final.