The Irish men’s Olympic hopes took a couple of twists during the week with the news that Brazil and Canada have confirmed their place at Rio 2016 via the Pan-American Games.
Brazil qualified on Tuesday by beating USA in a shoot-out to reach the final four of the competition, thus meeting the criteria laid out by the FIH and the IOC – top six at the Pan-Ams – for them to attend as hosts.
From Ireland’s perspective, they would have preferred the South American side to miss out as it would have given one more place to the World League finishers.
But Brazil’s success means they became the eighth side to qualify for the Games and were followed two days later by Canada as the ninth team. Their place was confirmed last night as they reached the final of the Pan-Am Games via a shoot-out win over Brazil. They will meet Argentina in the final.
With Argentina already qualified via the World League and Canada next on the World League list, this was good news for Ireland as they move up to second place on the waiting list from the World League behind Spain.
It leaves three tournaments in the Olympic qualifying process of which two must work in Ireland’s favour, namely:
1. European Championships (August 21-30) – if Ireland win, they qualify for the Games. If one of Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, England (GB) or Spain, this would move Ireland another place up the list. Only a France and Russia victory would not suit Ireland.
2. Oceania Cup (October 21-25) – if Australia win, another place goes to WL3. Their main competition is New Zealand for whom this is a last chance saloon for Olympic qualification.
3. Africa Cup for Nations (October 17-25) – the winner of this competition will be offered an Olympic place. The one addendum is that South Africa’s Olympic council, SASCOC has stated they will not send a team on the basis of victory of a continental championship. Should they win the tournament – they are the highest ranked nation, five above Egypt – this could open up another WL3 place.
** Front page picture credit: Yan Huckendubler