HOCKEY IS THE WINNER IN THE END
Overall Hockey was the major winner at the Commonwealth Games. In articles on Stuff, The Herald and Hindustan Times Hockey was named the “Most compelling Sport” of the Commonwealth Games.
The venue was named the “Best Venue” of all the sports, with the “Nicest Stadium” and overall had the “Best atmosphere”.
The best game/event/spectacle of the Commonwealth Games was the India – Pakistan pool play clash. The game was at full capacity with 16,000 screaming fans packed into the Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium. Hockey consistently saw large crowds even for non-Indian games which was a complete reversal of the World Cup earlier in the year.
Even the non-hockey public in India and around the World were caught up in the emotion and class of the game. India eventually ran out 7-4 winners.
Then to top things off both the Men’s and Women’s teams medalled at the XIX Commonwealth Games. This was the first major medals for the women (1998 Bronze Kuala Lumpur) and the men (2002 Silver in Manchester).
This was a great achievement for Hockey in NZ and to have both teams do so well bodes extremely well for the future of the sport especially leading into the 2012 London Olympics.
The Blackstick’s Men righted some previous wrongs against England by taking an unassailable 5-3 lead in a penalty shoot out to win Bronze. It was all smiles for the NZ boys where the English were left to rue consecutive 4th place finishes at the last 2 Commonwealth Games.
The scores were tied 3-3 after regulation time and through Golden Goal Extra-time, before leading to a penalty shoot-out.
Goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex was the hero of the moment as he saved a penalty from English player Scott Dixon.
In an open game in which there was plenty of goalmouth action at both ends, Pontifex had his best performance of the tournament, making a string of saves, both from penalty corners and open play.
It was huge for the boys to finish 3rd and avoid the dreaded 4th place. In the end the team was rapt with its medal and pleased they had justified their third place seeding in the tournament.
Lastly thank you to everyone for all your emails and comments to the Men’s team throughout our Commonwealth Games campaign. We know we gave you some heart in the mouth moments none more so than our late equaliser against Canada.
But it was great to have so much support for such a big event and so far away from home. So from the Blacksticks men’s team we all THANK YOU!
In the end the boys were over the moon to come away with a Bronze Medal especially with beating England one of our biggest rivals and a team that we had not beaten since 2007.
Now it is time to relax with family and friends and enjoy and share our medal with everyone who helped us to achieve it!