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Hockey


Field hockey is fast-moving, skilful game played outdoors in teams of 11.

Oldest game

Hockey is the oldest known ball and stick game: records exist of it being played in Persia in 2000 BC. The name “hockey” probably derives from the French “hocquet”, or shepherd’s crook, and refers to the crooked stick which is used to hit a small ball.

British development

The first team was the Blackheath Hockey Club, dating back to 1861. The Amateur Hockey Association was then formed in London in 1886, before workers and the military carried the game to the four corners of the British Empire. It became an Olympic sport in 1908.

Smoother surfaces

Until the 1970s, the game at international level was mainly played on natural grass, but the heavy turf made the game quite slow. When plastic turf was first used, the game suddenly became quicker and more exciting, giving birth to the modern game.

Dominant nations

Most of the dominant nations in the sport are, or were, members of the British Empire. This includes India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and, of course, England. Other nations have come to the forefront in more recent times to make the game a truly worldwide sport.

Olympic history

After a first appearance at the 1908 Games in London, hockey became a firm fixture on the Olympic programme as from the Antwerp Games in 1920. Women made their entrance in this sport in 1980 at the Moscow Games. Since the 2000 Games in Sydney, men have competed in a 12-team tournament and women in a 10-team one.

In its 100 years of Olympic existence, hockey has been essentially dominated by one country. The Indian men’s team, with six consecutive titles between 1928 and 1956, was unbeaten in 30 consecutive matches, and scored 197 goals, giving away only eight.

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Gallery

Hockey Women
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Hockey Women

Netherlands pose on the podium during the medal ceremony after winning Silver in the Women's Hockey on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Hockey Centre on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Hockey Women
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Hockey Women

General view of the stadium as Great Britain play Netherlands during the Women's Gold Medal Match against the Netherlands on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Hockey Centre on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Hockey Women
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Hockey Women

Pippa Hayward #26 of New Zealand in action against Marie Mavers #23 of Germany during the Women's Bronze Medal Match on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Hockey Centre on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Hockey Women
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Hockey Women

Great Britain players celebrating winning the shoot out against Netherlands to win the Women's Gold Medal Match on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Hockey Centre on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Hockey Women
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Hockey Women

Laura Unsworth #4 of Great Britain in action against Lidewij Welten #12 of Netherlands during the Women's Gold Medal Match on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Hockey Centre on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Hockey Women
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Hockey Women

Katharina Otte (L) of Germany is challenged by Charlotte Harrison during the Bronze medal match between Germany and New Zealand on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games held at the Olympic Hockey Centre on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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