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Date
12 Aug 2012
Tags
London 2012 , IOC News , Hockey , Germany , Netherlands

European teams rise to the top - London 2012 - Hockey


Germany's men and the Netherlands' women proved their enduring quality as both retained their Olympic Games titles.

For Germany coach Markus Weise, London 2012 brought a third successive gold medal, having previously led the women's side to victory in Athens in 2004 before switching to the men for Beijing 2008.

And the latest achievement meant Germany became only the second nation - the other being the Netherlands 12 years ago - since India in 1956 to retain their title.

The Dutch women were the most consistent team in the women's tournament and although world champions Argentina produced some exciting Hockey, they relied too heavily on star playmaker Luciana Aymar, which cost them when it came to the final.

The Netherlands became only the second team, after the great Australia side of the late 1990s, to win back-to-back Olympic titles

Germany's men began their defence slowly - losing to the Netherlands and drawing with New Zealand - but they came alive in the knockout phase, brilliantly dispatching world number ones Australia and then nullifying the attacking threat of the Dutch to clinch gold again.

Their semi-final against the Kookaburras proved pivotal as, in a classic performance, they twice came from behind before snatching a 4-2 victory with two goals in the last 12 minutes.

But their star in the 2-1 final victory was the unheralded midfielder Jan Philipp Rabente, who chose the most opportune moment to score his first goals of the tournament with a strike in each half.

Prior to that, the only player in the squad who had ever scored fewer was goalkeeper Max Weinhold, but Rabente's seventh and eighth international goals on his 78th appearance did the business either side of a penalty corner from Mink van der Weerden, who finished top-scorer with eight.

Australia consoled themselves with bronze after a 3-1 win over Great Britain to finish with a medal for the fifth successive Olympics.

On the other side, eight-time champions India produced their worst performance at the Games - discounting Beijing 2008 when they failed to qualify - as they lost all six matches to finish last.

The Netherlands' women enjoyed a 2-0 win over Argentina in the final having negated the effect seven-time world player of the year Aymar had on the game.

The form of captain Maartje Paumen, top-scorer at Beijing 2008 with 11, had been questioned but she came good in the knockout stages.

Having scored her first goals with two penalty corners against New Zealand in the semi-final, which thrillingly went to a shoot-out, she netted the clinching set-piece against Argentina after Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel's opener.

In doing so, she became the women's all-time leading Olympic goalscorer with 14.

Aymar had been due to retire after London 2012 but in the press conference after the final she produced comments which suggest she may yet carry on.

Hosts Great Britain claimed bronze after a comfortable 3-1 win over New Zealand, who recorded their highest Olympic finish having made their first semi-final after finishing last four years ago.

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