27 February 2012
The South African women’s hockey team have emulated their football counterparts by qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games, with a stunning 3-1 win over India in the final of a qualifying tournament in New Delhi on the weekend.
South Africa ended the tournament unbeaten, their only dropped points being in a draw against Italy.
Shelley Russell opened the scoring for South Africa in the first half, with Pietie Coetzee and captain Marsha Marescia scoring the remaining two goals in the second-half. Jaspreet Kaur scored India’s only point.
Marescia, who has been with the team since early 2000s, was named player of the tournament.
The South Africa Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) congratulated the team on their achievement.
“Many people said that we set our qualifying standards too high, but they have proved that they are worthy of their spot,” Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy said in a statement. “Here’s to hoping the team go from strength now and continue their fine work as they build up to London.”
Sascoc president Gideon Sam congratulated Marescia, coach Giles Bonnet and the rest of the team’s support staff.
“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,” Sam said.
“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.