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Germany win first women's hockey gold

By Jane Barrett
Last updated on: August 27, 2004 01:37 IST
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Outsiders Germany won their first Olympic women's hockey gold medal on Thursday, beating the Netherlands 2-1 to their own shock and disbelief.

Germany, ranked seventh at the start of the Athens Games, were surprised enough to get into the finals and coach Markus Weise had said he did not mind if they "lost 7-0 because at least we have a medal".

That attitude had disappeared by Thursday.

"We were relaxed because we were the underdogs," Weise said. "The pressure was entirely on the Dutch team."

Within five minutes, Germany had forced a penalty corner which Anke Kuehn slapped in with a low, hard drag flick. The second goal soon followed from a Franziska Gude reverse stick slam.

The Netherlands, who had not dropped a game so far at the Olympics, fought back and dominated ball possession in the second half. But they could only convert one short corner before the German defence regrouped and squeezed them out.

As the final hooter went, the disbelieving Germans threw their sticks into the air and jumped into each others arms while the Dutch collapsed on the pitch in floods of tears, some of them arguing with each other.

"It's unbelievable," beamed Denise Klecker. "We were a bit nervous when they came back in the second half but we just tried to keep the ball. In the end we won the gold. It's amazing."

Germany won the Olympic silver medal in 1984 and again in 1992 but their form had seriously slipped in recent years and had still been patchy during the Athens Games.

Argentina scored a last minute goal to beat China in the bronze medal play-off.

Outgoing champions Australia took fifth place, beating New Zealand 3-0, while the wooden spoon went to Spain.

Australia came to Athens hoping to win their third Olympic gold in a row but performed patchily during the pool rounds and failed to make the medal matches.

Lower down the classification playoffs, South Korea took seventh place with a 3-1 win over Japan, who ended in eighth.

South Africa finally squeezed past Spain 4-3 with an extra-time penalty corner to take ninth place, leaving Spain bottom of the pile in 10th.

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Jane Barrett
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