Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Great Britain reach for Tokyo 2020 hockey double in bid to aid medal table odds

Recent Summer Games have seen Great Britain enjoy a resurgence in the overall medal table stakes, and hockey presents Team GB with a rare chance of complete domination in a field at Tokyo 2020.

There may be only two gold medals to award across the men’s and women’s tournaments, but that can’t take away from the excitement felt at the prospect of potentially sweeping the series.

Britain’s women will travel to Japan this summer as defending champions following their shootout win over the Netherlands at Rio 2016, taking gold from the titleholders to br crowned Olympic queens for the first time, per the BBC.

The men’s team look less certain for a place on the podium considering it’s been 33 years since they clinched gold in Seoul, South Korea, although they did finish fourth at London 2012.

Belgium (runners-up in 2016) and Germany (gold medal-winners in 2008, 2012) are among the most difficult men’s opponents in Group B, while the ladies will face a first-round rematch against the Dutch in their Group A assortment:

It wasn’t long ago that Great Britain was largely overlooked as a minnow in Olympic circles and frequently figured outside the top 10 of the overall medal rankings. However, that’s all changed following back-to-back podiums in the last two editions of Games, backing up a third-place finish in 2012 with a silver-medal effort four years later when they ended with 27 golds.

The United States has won more medals than any other nation—both cumulatively and in each of the three standards—so it’s unsurprising Team USA are 1/10 favourites to one again finish atop the medal table. Great Britain, meanwhile, are 25/1 odds outsiders to win more golds than any other country, a feat they managed only once as hosts in 1908, reported by BritishGambler.co.uk.

The Hockey Paper previewed the FIH Pro League fixtures between Team GB and Germany as a long overdue return to home soil for both men’s and women’s squads. These are the first capped matches either team has played since Olympic qualifiers in November 2019, not to mention a key juncture in the selection process to pick this summer’s lineups.

Despite having never previously won hockey medals at the same Summer Games, there’s no reason why Great Britain’s teams shouldn’t see this as an opportunity to break the duck.

Coaches Danny Kerry and Mark Hager each boast a list of top-class talent among their selection, although both halves of the setup will be missing several key names due to injuries. Emily Defroand, Hannah Martin and Tess Howard are each set to miss Tokyo 2020 on the women’s side, while Luke Taylor, Will Calnan and David Condon are the major misses for the men.

Few would expect the groups to be back up to full speed so soon after resuming competition following such a lengthy hiatus. However, these and the games to come will serve as a barometer as to where the teams are in their development preparing for the trip to Japan.

Expectations have been raised for Great Britain in the wake of two particularly promising Olympic displays in each of the last two Games, and it’s sports like hockey that could have a huge impact on their final finishing position when it comes time to count the medals.

Total Hockey

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