Hockey: Great Britain sides secure Tokyo 2020 Olympics places


GB women dispatch Chile to reach Tokyo 2020

Great Britain’s women’s and men’s teams each secured places at Tokyo 2020 after commanding wins in their Olympic qualifying play-offs at Lee Valley.

The women will now have the chance to defend their title after beating Chile.

After a 3-0 win in Saturday’s first leg, Mark Hager’s side secured a 2-1 victory in the second leg to claim the tie 5-1 on aggregate in London.

The men beat Malaysia 5-2 on Sunday following a 4-1 first-leg win to take the tie 9-3 overall.

It was the final chance for both sides to qualify for the Games after disappointing results in recent tournaments.

“I’m so proud of all the girls,” said Great Britain captain Hollie Pearne-Webb.

“I’m really excited now looking forward to the next eight months. I think we can make some huge progress in that time. The hard work starts now.”

Goals from Tess Howard and Laura Unsworth put the hosts 2-0 up inside seven minutes on Sunday.

Chile thought they had pulled a goal back in the third quarter but Francisca Parra’s strike was ruled out by the video umpire, as the ball had not travelled the required five metres before entering the circle.

Las Diablas did get on the scoreboard with just three minutes remaining through Villagran but by then it was no more than a consolation.

Qualification for next year’s Olympics will come as a huge relief to Hager, who has presided over a tough transitional period since taking the job in January 2019.

Great Britain won their first Olympic title with a thrilling shootout victory over the Netherlands at Rio 2016.

But high-profile players such as Helen Richardson-Walsh, Kate Richardson-Walsh, Sophie Bray and Crista Cullen have since retired, while Alex Danson – England and Great Britain’s joint leading scorer of all time – has been out with a long-term head injury.

Only seven of the Rio gold medallists are in the current squad, which finished second-bottom in the inaugural FIH Pro League season and outside the medals at the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 European Championships.

“The pressure on the girls [at qualifying] was huge, especially as they are the defending Olympic champions,” said Hager.

“We had to win these two games and I’m really proud of the girls. It’s a fantastic effort. Now we can put our plans in place for what’s to come.

“It’s great going to the Olympics but if you look at the percentage of people who win medals it’s not very many.

“Our next objective is to make sure we’ve got the process to find that extra 10-20% improvement we need to compete for a medal.”

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa attended the match and gave the Chile side a pre-match pep talk in support of his friend, Las Diablas coach Sergio Vigil.

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa spoke to Chile’s players before the second leg

Forsyth hat-trick downs Malaysia

Great Britain’s men now have the chance to improve on their group-stage exit at the last Olympics, as they saw off Malaysia through a hat-trick from Scotland’s Alan Forsyth and two strikes by Sam Ward.

Danny Kerry’s side settled their nerves early on, taking the lead from a penalty stroke in the ninth minute as Forsyth converted for his 100th international goal.

Ward made it 2-0 two minutes later with a beautiful lofted finish at the near post.

Goalkeeper George Pinner had already made a splendid save to keep out Tengku Tajuddin at the start of the second quarter but there was nothing he could do to prevent Fitri Saari from pouncing on a penalty corner rebound to make it 2-1.

Ward restored the two-goal lead with a superb drag flick at the start of the third quarter.

Malaysia scored a second through Razie Rahim, but Forsyth applied the finish to a lovely sweeping move with five minutes left and then completed his hat-trick, scoring again from the penalty spot to seal the win and Great Britain’s passage to the Olympics.

Alan Forsyth recorded his 100th international goal en route to a hat-trick against Malaysia


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