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News for 28 July 2020

All the news for Tuesday 28 July 2020

From Amat to Zeller: Examining Hockey’s Olympic dynasties

In the latest of our stories marking the original event dates of Tokyo 2020, we examine some of the families synonymous with hockey at the Olympic Games, with a special look at the hugely successful Keller clan of Germany.

While far from being the only sport where members of the same family have competed on the global stage – tennis’s multiple grand-slam winning sisters Venus and Serena Williams; boxing’s Klitschko brothers as well as Mohammed Ali and daughter Layla; brilliant Norwegian middle-distance running siblings Henrik, Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, to name just a handful of many available examples – hockey has certainly had plenty of its own fascinating familial connections down the years.

India superstar Dhyan Chand, a triple Olympic gold medallist from the Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1932 and Berlin 1936 Olympiads and one of the undisputed all-time greats of the game, was actually outscored by his own brother at the Los Angeles event, with Roop Singh netting 13 times compared to the 12-goal haul claimed by ‘The Wizard’. Chand’s son Ashok Kumar also played hockey for India, winning Olympic bronze at Munich 1972 as well as the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Spain’s Amat family have also enjoyed their fair share of success, with brothers Pedro (bronze, Rome 1960), Francisco (1964, 1968, 1972), Jaime (1964, 1972) and Juan (silver, Moscow 1980) all being hockey Olympians. Francisco’s son Pol – the 2008 FIH Men’s Player of the Year, whose is also cousins with fellow Spanish legend and strike partner Santi Freixa – would go on to compete in five Olympic Games, winning silver medals at Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008. Playing alongside Pol at Atlanta 1996 was another cousin, Santi Amat, son of the aforementioned Jaime.

There is an inexhaustible list of other families worthy of note, including Australia’s Govers brothers and the mother-daughter combo of Barcelona 1988 Olympic gold medallist Lee Capes and Tokyo 2020 hopeful Kaitlin Nobbs, Great Britain siblings Richard and Simon Mantell, the Sruoga, Habif and Granatto sisters of Argentina, not forgetting Germany’s incredible Zeller and Wess brothers, winners of Olympic gold medals both at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. 

Like the brothers Zeller and Wess, Germany is the home of one of Olympic hockey’s most celebrated families, three generations of which have represented the country’s national teams, amassing an impressive set of medals along the way. The family name? Keller.

The first time the Keller surname appeared on the hockey medal roster at an Olympic Games was at Berlin 1936, when Erwin Keller finished the 11-nation competition with a silver medal hanging around his neck on home soil. Chand’s incredible India team were worthy winners of the gold medal thanks to an 8-1 victory, although Keller’s Germany team were the only nation to even register a goal against the brilliant Indians, who finished the competition with 38 goals scored and just one conceded.

At Munich 1972, Erwin’s son Carsten Keller went one better than his father, claiming the gold medal as the captain of West Germany. On 10 September 1972, the host nation defeated Pakistan 1-0 thanks to a strike from Michael Krause. It 33-year-old Carsten’s 133rd and final international match, ending his career on a wonderful high in front of 15,000 fans at the Olympic Park. 

“A German team had never won at the Olympic Games”, said Carsten, Speaking to Germany’s Die Welt newspaper in 2019. “My father, who died a year before my Olympic victory, had won silver at the games in Berlin in 1936, which was the greatest German hockey success until Munich. After we won our first European Championship in Brussels two years earlier and the team stayed together, we went to the Olympic tournament with the conviction that we would win gold.”

Remarkably, Carsten’s gold medal success would be matched by three of his children, all of whom played in the forward lines for their respective Germany teams. Eldest son Andreas Keller was the first, being part of glorious Germany team that took Olympic gold at Barcelona 1992.

Twelve years later, Carsten’s daughter Natascha Keller became an Olympic champion with Germany at Athens 2004. In a further familial twist, Natascha’s team-mate in Athens was Louisa Walter, who married Andreas. Natascha – the brilliant attacker who was named FIH Player of the Year in 1999 – would be given the honour of being Germany’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, a rare privilege that was also given to her father at the closing ceremony of Munich 1972.

At Beijing 2008, the hugely gifted Florian became the third Keller sibling to become a gold medallist, scoring three goals to help Germany’s men win their first Olympic gold medal since the 1992 team that featured elder brother Andreas.

As Olympic omens go, having a Keller in your team would appear to be a very good thing indeed. 


Olympic hockey through the ages

Looking back at over 100 years of hockey at the Olympic Games

    Los Angeles 1932: India claimed Olympic gold for a second time in Los Angeles, scoring 35 goals in just two matches to finish top of the table ahead of Japan and USA, the respective silver and bronze medallists, in a three-team competition. Superstar Dhyan Chand scored 12 times in the two matches, with Chand’s brother Roop Singh netting 13.
    Berlin 1936: As mentioned in the above article, India’s third gold saw them finish top of the podium ahead of ten other nations. It was another thoroughly dominant display from Dhyan Chand’s team, reaching the final having scored 30 goals in four games without conceding before cruising to an 8-1 win over hosts Germany.
    London 1948: In the first Olympic Games to take place after World War II, India stormed to a fourth successive title against host nation Great Britain, winning 4-0 in a gold medal match that came 362 days after the country had gained independence from British rule.

Next time: Helsinki 1952, Melbourne 1956 and Rome 1960.


On this day – 26 July 1992: The men’s hockey competition at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games begins, with eventual men’s champions Germany beginning their campaign with a 3-0 victory over India with strikes from Christian Blunck, Carsten Fischer and Stefan Tewes. Stefan’s younger brother, Jan-Peter Tewes, was also part of Germany’s gold medal-winning squad.


FIH site

Amy's advice to umpires: soak it all in

When it comes to memories of Olympic Games, we all think of athletes and coaches. What was it like to step on the pitch for the first time? How did you feel as the national anthem played? These are questions that athletes answer time and again.

We can tend to forget that there is another group of people whose performances at the Olympics are vital to the result: the third team, otherwise known as the umpires and officials.

Just as a player will remember the winning goal they scored or the crucial tackle they made, so too the match umpire will have memories of their own performance. There will be moments when they held their whistle for the perfect advantage decision or the knowledge that their brave decision led to the right outcome.

Amy Baxter was umpire at both London 2012 and Rio 2016. On both occasions it was the reaction of the supporters that stands out most for the USA umpire.

“For London 2012, my standout memory was doing one of Great Britain's matches. To be honest I don't even remember the match or who they played. What has made its mark in my memory is the utmost pride and support with which the Great Britain supporters greeted their team as they walked out onto the pitch. It was deafening and electric. The stadium music was pumping out “London's Calling' as we walked out for the team anthems. I remember grinning ear to ear. [Great Britain’s] Helen Richardson was standing to my left. As we ran out, she leaned over and said, 'this is pretty amazing, isn't it?'. All I could do was nod my head. The music, the crowd, it just left a permanent mark in my hockey memory.”

It was a similar story at Rio 2016. Baxter recalls the Argentina fans cheering on their team as they played Australia. It was a night-time match and the umpire says the crowds were beginning to make a noise a full hour before the teams ran out onto the pitch.

“The stadium was packed with Las Leonas fans, singing, chanting, banging, cazooing. I just really admire the support and dedication fans give to their countries.”

Leading into the Olympic Games, the umpires are under pressure to be at the top of their game. Baxter says both her physical and mental preparation for the two Olympic Games were full on, although for Rio she was dealing with a back injury and so the physical preparation had to be centred on managing that injury.

Following on from an experience such as an Olympic Games it is difficult to know life gets back to normality. Baxter is not alone when she says that the experience is life-changing.

“Umpiring at the Olympics gives you life experiences that you would never normally be opened to. Travelling; spending time in your own company; the mental pressure you put on yourself to do the game justice, let alone the pressure from the fans, athletes, coaches, people watching the game on tv, social media.

“I always put a lot of pressure on myself both as a player [Baxter was part of the national USA programme until 1996] and as an umpire. But I have realised I can only control so much. I’ve certainly learned to 'breath' – white cloud in, grey cloud out – and to keep a healthy perspective.”

And the self-deprecating umpire has this advice for those facing their own Olympic challenge next year in Tokyo: “Prepare for each game. No one match will ever be the same. Prepare before the match with your partner. Communication is key, especially with your umpire colleague. You'll have umpires you have worked with many times and know their rhythm, timing, plan of action, and then you'll have those you haven't had as much. A good solid pre-game discussion is well worth the time for yourself, your partner and the players.

“Soak it in. Enjoy it all. Everything. Your bus trips to the venues, the walk to the stadium, your colleagues, your flatmates, the environment, the city, the people, the fans, every sport - absorb it all.”


Olympic hockey through the ages
A look back at over 100 years of hockey at the Olympic Games 

    Helsinki 1952: Policeman Balbir Singh – who sadly passed away earlier this year – scored 13 goals as India men won gold yet again, with the Netherlands on the end of a 6-1 defeat in the final.
    Melbourne 1956: India men made it six successive Olympic gold medals with a 1-0 win over rising powerhouse Pakistan.
    Rome 1960: India’s incredible run was ended by the Green Shirts of Pakistan, who defeated their rivals 1-0 in the gold medal match for their first Olympic title. 

Tomorrow: Tokyo 1964, Mexico City 1968 and Munich 1972


On this day – 27 July 1992: The women of Spain and Germany battle to a 2-2 draw in their opening match of Pool A at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, with Spain’s Teresa Motos scoring twice to cancel out a double from Franziska Hentschel. The two teams would meet again in the gold medal match, with Spain taking a famous 2-1 win on home soil thanks to an extra-time goal from Eli Maragall.


FIH site

"Where’s the Hockey?" The Diablas & Diablos initiative that unites our sport throughout Chile

Federación Chilena de Hockey sobre Césped

Players from both national teams joined forces to discover every corner where hockey is practiced in the country, through an entertaining contest. More than 70 institutions participated, thus leaving a very valuable record for national hockey.

Between May and June, players from Las Diablas and Los Diablos, with the support of the Federación Chilena de Hockey sobre Césped, they developed an interactive and fun contest to find the places where our sport is practiced.

Divided by areas - North, Metropolitan, Central Coast, South Central and Southern Austral - and with the mission that each institution or hockey club send a video as creative as possible by passing the ball, this contest was started and had a great reception.

“It was super enriching to know that there are teams that we didn't even know existed, that they are there and they train. In other words, there are hockey players everywhere” says Mariana Lagos, Las Diablas midfielder and main driving force - along with Captain Camila Caram - of the initiative.

But how did the idea come about? “The coaches invited us to use this quarantine to our advantage and try to reach the people who always follow us, because it is thanks to them that we have grown as a sport. Deep down, helping people who have also helped us in another way ”says “Meme”. On the other hand, Camila Caram notes that this also had the purpose of assembling a record of all the teams where our sport is played “The idea was to search and find all the places where hockey is played, to be able to later show it and promote it, with the idea that all that information is somewhere, so that anyone who wants to play hockey gets inside and can find that information "

And the result was incredible. 74 teams registered: 12 in the North Area; 20 in the Metropolitan Region; 20 in the Central Coast Area; 18 in the Central South Area; and 18 in the Southern Austral.

Numbers that date from the vast presence of a sport that is growing more and more nationally. Our Head Coach, Alfredo Castro, positively evaluates the performance of this contest "It has been spectacular because it has allowed us to detect many institutions that practice hockey in the regions, which the Federation had not accounted, with which we have increased our mass of institutions of hockey and our number of players in an impressive way… It opens our eyes to how hockey is spreading and developing throughout Chile”.

Along the same lines, Juan Ignacio Amoroso, player of Los Diablos, believes that it was a necessity to create a direct line with all the clubs in the country "I think we had very little information on how big the hockey family is in Chile ... Hockey It has always been very centralized and this was a good opportunity to get to know region hockey ”.

And this they achieved through the contest which, by the way, presented awards to the winners of each area. The main award consisted of a training kit for the winning team.

"This is finally a way of saying that we want hockey to belong to everyone," says Lagos at the end, making it understood that these instances only add to the sport.

Regarding the FEHOCH, Alfredo Castro closes "We are not only staying with this action, but now we are generating direct support for all institutions to train them and integrate them into the national system of the federation."

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Hockey coaching: Getting the ball in the right position to pass

By Todd Williams

Australia’s Aran Zalewski goes on the move PIC: Worldsportpics

Next time you watch a game of hockey, take note of the weak or inaccurate passes. Almost certainly you’ll see that most of them will have come about because the player has not been able to get the ball into the correct position well or quickly enough.

To help you avoid this there are three simple things you can work on to help you pass better and more consistently.

Receive the ball, don’t just stop it

See if you can “catch” the ball when it comes to you so that you bring it into the perfect position ready to pass. The better you can do that, the less adjustment you have to make and the more time you have to get the pass right.

Fast hands

For the times when they ball isn’t in the right position, practice getting it there as quickly as possible and in as few movements as possible. Bad passes, deflections and bad first touches all create situations where the ball isn’t in the right spot. None of that should prevent you making a good pass if you can react quick enough and get your stick on the ball and into the right place to pass.


Along with those fast hands, you need fast feet. When the ball isn’t in the right position, getting it there with your stick is only half the job. You also need your feet moving just as quickly so that your body is ready to deliver the pass as the time as your stick is.

Our resident coaching expert Todd Williams runs regular holiday camps. www.williamshockeycoaching.com

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