Playing in the Olympics is the ultimate accolade for any hockey player, and the qualifying pathway to that world stage, therefore, is arguably just as important. Of the 12 women’s and 12 men’s teams to qualify for Tokyo 2020, five spots were secured through the Continental Championships. The remaining seven spots were fought out via dedicated Olympic Qualifier matches which took place at the end of 2019. Remarkably, 70% of these Olympic Qualifiers were battled out on Poligras turfs including 4 which were played on the Olympic surface, Poligras Tokyo GT. As part of Tokyo 2020’s goal for carbon-neutral games, Poligras Tokyo GT is the world’s first sustainable turf made from sugar cane.
From India men’s 11-3 goal-fest over Russia to Ireland women’s historical Big Stadium qualifier in front of record crowds and a live free-to-air audience, these are the Poligras pitches that paved the way for Olympic greatness this summer:
WOMEN’S QUALIFIERS ON POLIGRAS
KALINGA STADIUM, BHUBANESWAR – IND vs USA
India’s women broke the hearts of the USA team with a well-fought 6-5 aggregate victory at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar – one of the world’s most impressive hockey stadiums. The Kalinga Stadium is the Indian home of the FIH Pro League.
WUJIN HOCKEY STADIUM, CHANGZHOU – CHN v BEL
China staged a remarkable comeback from a 0-2 deficit in the first leg to beat the Red Panthers 2-1 in a shootout at the Wujin Hockey Stadium. The Wujin Hockey Stadium is also the Chinese home of the FIH Pro League and boasts an Olympic Poligras Tokyo GT pitch.
HOCKEYPARK, MÖNCHENGLADBACH – GER v ITA
Die Danas showed their superiority over their lower-ranked European neighbours with an emphatic 9-0 aggregate win over Italy. A sweet victory indeed on this sugar cane Poligras Tokyo GT turf in a 9,000-capacity stadium.
ENERGIA PARK, DUBLIN – IRL v CAN
Ireland achieved Olympic qualification for the first time in history beating Canada 4-3 in a penalty shootout. Big Stadium Hockey, an initiative spearheaded by England Hockey and Polytan enabled a Poligras Tokyo GT pitch to be temporarily laid at the home of Leinster Rugby which pulled in a record crowd for women’s team sport in Ireland. The Green Army found a ‘12th player’ in their 12,000-strong home crowd over the two consecutive days of matches. Click here for more details.
THE BETERÓ HOCKEY STADIUM, VALENCIA – ESP v KOR
Spain won 4-1 on aggregate booking their place on the plane to Tokyo alongside the men’s team.
LEE VALLEY HOCKEY & TENNIS CENTRE, LONDON – GBR V CHI
Great Britain’s women kept their dreams alive of successfully defending the Olympic title they won at Rio 2016 with a 5-1 victory on aggregate at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. The Olympic legacy stadium was also the 2018 Women’s World Cup venue.
MEN’S QUALIFIERS ON POLIGRAS
KALINGA STADIUM, BHUBANESWAR – IND v RUS
India’s men overpowered Russia winning 11-3 on aggregate at the Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium. With a capacity of 15,000, the Kalinga Stadium played host to the 2018 FIH World Cup.
HOCKEYPARK, MÖNCHENGLADBACH – GER v AUT
Germany secured their place at Tokyo on a Poligras Tokyo GT pitch, winning 10-3 on aggregate against Austria at Mönchengladbach’s Hockeypark. Hockeypark was the stadium where Die Honamas famously won the FIH Men’s World Cup in 2006 and also hosts the FIH Pro League.
LEE VALLEY HOCKEY & TENNIS CENTRE, LONDON – GBR v MAS
Great Britain’s men won 9-3 on aggregate against Malaysia at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre. With a capacity of 3,000, the Lee Valley Hockey Centre has the flexibility to increase to a whopping 15,000 spectators for big competitions. Lee Valley is also the English home of the FIH Pro League.
THE BETERÓ HOCKEY STADIUM, VALENCIA – ESP v FRA
Spain edged out France to book their place at Tokyo with a 6-5 aggregate victory at the Betero Hockey Stadium, home to the Spanish FIH Pro League.