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Top field hockey stories to watch in Rio

Olympic field hockey
Mark Palczewski/USA Field Hockey

Top field hockey stories to watch in Rio

Five stories to watch during the 2016 Olympic field hockey tournaments. 

Germany goes for its third straight Olympic gold in men’s field hockey 
Germany’s men’s field hockey team is the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist. At the 2012 London Games, the team lost just one match en route to gold. The team is coming off a disappointing third place finish at the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophy in June, but is still among the favorites to top the podium.

If Germany can win gold in Rio, it will be the first Olympic three-peat in men’s field hockey since India had its run of dominance in the mid-1900s.

Australia and the Netherlands figure to be big challengers to Germany's quest for gold in Rio. 

Can Dutch women three-peat?
The Dutch women’s field hockey team has won gold at the last two Olympics. Ranked first in the world going into the 2016 Games, the Netherlands are again among the favorites to win gold.

In 2012, the team dominated the rest of the field, winning all seven of its matches as it became just the second country to win consecutive Olympic golds in women’s field hockey.

Returning players from the 2012 Olympic team include forwards Ellen Hoog and Lidewij Welten, defender Maartje Paumen and goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek.

Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. are threats to the Dutch’s Olympic dominance.

Can U.S. women make the podium?
The U.S. women’s field hockey team finished last at the London Olympics, winning just one of its six games. Following the 2012 Games, the team brought in a new coach, Craig Parnham, and overhauled its system in the hopes of Olympic success in Rio. 

This summer, the U.S. goes into the Olympics with its highest world ranking ever at fifth and a legitimate shot at a medal. The U.S. has not won an Olympic field hockey medal since 1984. 

2012 struggles push U.S. women's field hockey to new heights

The U.S. women's field hockey team is looking to land on the podium in Rio.

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Can Australia men recapture men’s Olympic gold?
Australia’s men’s field hockey team is the only other men's team besides Germany to be on the podium at every Olympics since 2004. At the Athens Games, Australia won Olympic gold in men’s field hockey for the first time.

12 years later, the only remaining players from that team are brothers-in-law Jamie Dwyer and Mark Knowles. After winning the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophy, Australia heads to the Olympics as the top ranked team in the world. 

Will having four quarters instead of two halves affect the match?
For the first time at the Olympics, field hockey matches will be played in four 15-minute quarters rather than two 35-minute halves. Although players have played with this format before, the change could impact the strategies of teams at the Olympics.  

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