The 20 Commonwealth Games teams for the Birmingham 2022 hockey competition have been finalised, with India now committed to the Games after a period of uncertainty and host nation England looking to win gold for the first time.
Australia men and New Zealand women will be defending their titles from four years ago when action gets underway at the University of Birmimgham in late July.
Malaysia, who hosted the first competition for hockey at the 1998 Games, are not competing in either the men’s or women’s events. They are instead setting sights on the Asian Games in China, which acts as an Olympic qualifer. The proximity of the Birmingham Games to the Asian showpiece had been one of the main causes of concern for India.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s decision to opt out means that Kenya women will be competing for the first time at the Commonwealth Games, while Ghana men will also be making a debut appearance, following on from the women’s memorable first Games on the Gold Coast.
The 2022 competition will be split into two groups of five in the 10-team men’s and women’s event. Detailed match schedules will be announced in due course, the FIH said.
Australia, Canada, England, Ghana, India, Kenya, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Wales
Australia, Canada, England, Ghana, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa, Wales
England have yet to contest a final in the men’s event and have three bronze medals to their name, while England women have garnered three silvers – the closest coming in that incredible final at Glasgow 2014. That silver medal sparked England and GB’s rise to Olympic gold.
Conversely, old rivals Australia have won six consecutive men’s gold medals, while the women have won four of the six gold medals that have been contested at the Games since 1998.
Australian team Chef de Mission Petria Thomas said: “Our Hockeyroos and Kookaburras join the Australian women’s T20 cricket team and our netball team in having their qualification confirmed and we are also beginning to see athletes setting individual qualification performances for the Games, which is all bringing the countdown to the Games into a sharp focus… there are now less than 150 days to go.”
Elsewhere, this will be the fifth appearance at the Games for both Welsh teams since field hockey was introduced in 1998.
At the Gold Coast Games, Wales women memorably scored a brilliant 3-2 victory over India, which Leah Wilkinson labelled as the team’s biggest ever win.
Kevin Johnson, Hockey Wales’ director of performance, said: “The Commonwealth Games will always hold a significant place in the hearts of our players as for many it is a milestone experience to be involved in. Excitement is certainly evident as the event approaches. We are already feeling that buzz in anticipation of coming together with other Welsh sports to create the ‘Team Wales’ collective.”