Several Vancouver Island links at FIH Olympic qualifying event in Oman, Spain
By Ali Baggott
This month is a busy month for island athletes and one island-connected umpire who are set to represent Canada on a very important state – the FIH Olympic Qualifiers.
The Canadian women’s national team drew the qualifier event in Valencia, Spain from Jan 13-21, while the Canadian men’s team are set to compete from Jan. 15-21 in Muscat, Oman. Both teams have already arrived in their respective locations to acclimatize and get some training and test matches in after the holiday break.
Victoria’s Kathleen Leahy (Lynx FHC, UVic Vikes) and Anna Mollenhauer (Lynx FHC, UVic Vikes) alongside Duncan’s Sara Goodman (Cowichan FHC, UBC Thunderbirds) are part of the 18-player roster. On the men’s side, Victoria’s Harbir Sidhu (Tigers FHC, UVic Vikes) has made the squad, while formerly Victoria-based umpire Tyler Klenk was selected to officiate at the Oman event.
Following October’s Pan American Games, hosted in Santiago, Chile, both Canadian sides failed to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics as only the continental champions had a direct berth the the major games. Argentina, in their continued dominance, took the seed on both sides. With hosts, France, and five continental champion berths now sealed, that still leaves 6 available slots for the world’s remaining teams to vie for.
There are two FIH Olympic qualifying tournaments per gender and the top three placings in each tournament, each with eight teams, will qualify. The Canadian women will open pool play against Great Britain, before taking on Malaysia and then Spain. Belgium, Ireland, Korea and Ukraine are in their rival pool. Those games are hosted in Valencia, Spain, while the other women’s qualifier is taking place in Ranchi, India.
The Canadian men’s side will be Muscat, Oman, alongside Klenk as an umpire. Canada shares a pool with Germany, New Zealand and Chile, and the other pool includes China, Great Britain, Malaysia and Pakistan.
It will be no easy feat to compete in these gruelling events but the prize is an ultimate one. Cheer on the Canadians.
Learn more about the FIH Olympic Qualifiers: https://www.fih.hockey/events/the-olympic-games-paris-2024/news/fih-hockey-olympic-qualifiers-2024-pools-revealed
Watch the Olympic Qualifiers online at: https://watch.hockey
Schedules, scores, rosters and more at: https://tms.fih.ch/