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2008 Summer Olympic Games Preview - Field Hockey

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Since the inception of Field Hockey into the Olympic Games in 1908, the United States has won exactly two medals - a bronze each by the men (1932) and women (1984). That figure will not change in 2008 for the men, while the women have a good chance to reach the podium.

The American men have not participated in an Olympic Games not hosted by the United States since 1948 (Melbourne) and have an all-time Olympic record of 0-28-1. On the other hand, the women last appeared in the Olympics in 1996.

Defending gold medalists Australia heads the 12-team field in this year's men's tournament. The Aussies will be joined in Group B by perennial power and silver medalists the Netherlands, along with Pakistan, South Africa, Canada and Great Britain. However, Australia will be without the services of leading scorer Nathan Eglington, who is out with a torn leg muscle. Replacing Eglington will be tough, but Jamie Dwyer has the potential. Dwyer, who is best known for his match-winning goal in extra time four years ago in Athens, is a two-time winner of the FIH Player of the Year awards (2004 & 2007).

On the other side of the tournament will be host China, Belgium, Germany, Korea, New Zealand and Spain. The Germans won the bronze medal in 2004, defeating the Spaniards.

On the women's side, it should come down to the Netherlands and Germany in the final, as both are back looking for repeat medals. Germany scored twice in the opening 20 minutes and held on to beat the Dutch, 2-1, for the gold medal in Athens.

Australia has won three gold medals in women's play (1988, 1996, 2000), while the Netherlands has won just once (1984). Both will play in Group A, along with host China, Korea, South Africa and Spain.

The Dutch have a strong team, led by the solid play of defender Minke Booij, who was a member of the 2004 team. Booij is also a four-time Champions Trophy winner and was named the 2006 FIH "Player of the Year."

Group B will have the reigning Player of the Year winner in Argentina's Luciana Aymar, who has won the award four times. Aymar helped Argentina qualify for the games with a gold medal victory in the Pan Am Games over the United States. She scored seven goals in the tournament and has a bronze medal (2004) and a silver (2000) in past Olympic Games.

Joining Argentina will be Germany, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand and for the first time in 20 years, the United States qualified for the games they were not hosting. Back in 1996, Team USA finished fifth in the eight-team tournament.

Leading the way for Team USA will be captain Kate Barber, an 11-year national team veteran. Barber plays forward and leads all team members in international caps with 156. She played collegiately at North Carolina, where she was a three-time first-team All-American.

One of the keys to the U.S. revival was the hiring of head coach Lee Bodimeade. He took over the squad in May 2005 and was put in charge of restoring the USA to its place in the Olympic Games. The coach quickly led the team to a fifth-place finish at the 2005 Champions Challenge and recorded wins over traditional powers Spain and New Zealand. Bodimeade earned a silver medal as a member of the Australian men's Olympic team at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Bodimeade also has one of the top goaltenders in the world in Amy Tran. The Pennsylvania born Tran has been a member of the national team since 2002 and was the only American named to the World Hockey All-Star Teams in 2006 and 2007.

07/17 13:10:19 ET


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