The Hockey competition at the 2011 Pan American Games gets underway today in Guadalajara, Mexico. The men’s and women’s tournament will feature a total of 256 athletes representing eight different nations fighting not only for the two Gold medals on offer but also the chance to play at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Ahead of this fantastic event, we provide a little bit of background information about the competition and the teams involved.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the women of Argentina will begin the tournament as heavy favourites for the Gold medal. Luciana Aymar’s team are aiming to claim a seventh straight Pan American title, having won every edition since the first ever women’s hockey tournament took place in 1987 (Indianapolis). Despite losing their Champions Trophy title earlier in the year to The Netherlands, Las Leonas are still the world’s number 1 ranked team and will take some stopping in Guadalajara. Argentina will play in Pool A where they will face Canada (FIH World Ranking: 20), Trinidad and Tobago (24) and Barbados (57).
The USA – currently 13th in the FIH World Rankings - are expected to be Argentina’s strongest rivals for the women’s title in Guadalajara. The Americans have taken the silver medal five times (1987, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007), with Argentina thwarting their Gold medal ambitions on every occasion. However, this time around the team lead by talismanic defender Rachel Dawson will be aiming to change that statistic. USA will compete in Pool B, where they will be challenged by the unpredictable and exciting Chile (FIH World Ranking: 16), as well as host nation Mexico (31) and Cuba (50).
Historically, the Gold medal in the men’s competition has always gone to one of two nations. Since the inaugural hockey tournament in 1967, Argentina have claimed the title on no less than seven occasions (1967, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1991, 1995 and 2003), with the other four wins going to Canada (1983, 1987, 1999 and 2007). It comes as no surprise that these two Pan American giants are once again expected to fight for the title and a berth at the London 2012 Olympics. The two sides are separated by just one place in the FIH World Rankings, with reigning Pan Am champions Canada sitting in 10th place with Argentina in 11th.
Canada – lead by veteran stars Rob Short and Kenny Pereira – will be aiming to top Pool A head of Chile (WR: 25), Trinidad & Tobago (WR: 29) and Barbados (WR: 58). Argentina will compete in Pool B, where their main rivals are expected to be USA, a side tanked 20th in the FIH World Rankings. Mexico (WR: 31) and Cuba (WR: 45) will also be in action in Pool B, where they will be doing their best to cause an upset.
Both the winners and runners up in the Pool phases will progress through to the Semi Final stages. The women’s Semi Finals take place on Wednesday 26th October, with the men’s Semi Finals being scheduled for Thursday 27th October.
The tournament begins on Wednesday morning in the women’s competition, with world champions Argentina taking on Trinidad & Tobago at 09:00 (GMT -5). That match will be followed by Canada versus Barbados at 11:00 before the United States take on host nation Mexico at 14:00. The final match of the day sees Chile and Cuba going head-to-head at 16:00. The first matches of the men’s competition take place on Thursday.
The fixtures for Wednesday can be found below. To see the full playing schedule, please click here (external site – Official Pan Am Games website)
Fixtures - Wednesday 19th October 2011
09:00 Women's Group A Game 1 Argentina v Trinidad & Tobago
11:00 Women's Group A Game 2 Canada v Barbados
14:00 Women's Group B Game 3 United States v Mexico
16:00 Women's Group B Game 4 Chile v Cuba
All times are local (GMT -5)
Hockey at Guadalajara 2011
Who: The Men and women of Argentina, USA, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Cuba, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago.
Where: The Pan American Hockey Stadium, Revolución Sports Complex, 3232 Pablo Neruda Avenue, Providencia Zone, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. (Capacity: 1870)
When: 19th - 29th October 2011
The Prize: The men’s and women’s Gold medalists will secure a place at the London 2012 Olympics.