SA Women's Hockey team book London spot

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Durban - The South African women's representation at the Olympic Games strengthened after the hockey team qualified on Saturday.

The South African women's hockey team defeated India 3-1 in New Delhi to take their place at the London Olympic Games in the final of the qualifying tournament.

South Africa ended the tournament unbeaten, their only dropped points being in a draw against Italy.

Shelley Russell opened the score board in the first half for South Africa, while Pietie Coetzee and Captain Marsha Marescia scoring the remaining two goals in the second-half. Jaspreet Kaur scored India's only point.

The player of the tournament was awarded to Marescia, who has been with the team since early 2000s.

SASCOC on Saturday congratulated the women's hockey team on their qualification.

"Congratulations are in order to our girls," said the South African Olympic governing body's CEO Tubby Reddy on Saturday.

"Many people said that we set our qualifying standards too high but they have proved that they are worthy of their spot. Here's to hoping the team go from strength now and continue their fine work as they build up to London."

Jubilant SASCOC President Gideon Sam said: "Well done to Giles, Marsha, all the players and support staff. We knew you had the ability to make the squad for the 2012 London Olympics.

"Yes, the standards set were high, but having come through this tough and challenging qualifying route, you will no doubt have even more confidence in your ability to do well for your country in London.

"Congratulations and rest assured, South Africans all over the world will be joining you in your joy today and supporting you on the road ahead to London."

The hockey team now joins the codes of women's football, canoeing, rowing, athletics (marathon) and road cycling, who have already qualified athletes for the Games.

In their last three Olympic Games, South Africa ended 10th, 9th and 11th respectively in 2000 (Sydney), 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing).