Belgium win gold in Randburg
Gauthier Boccard of Belgium shoots (Gallo Images)
Randburg - With 55 seconds left in a thrilling Champions Challenge gold medal match at the Randburg Hockey Stadium late on Sunday afternoon, Belgium came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat India 4-3.
Earlier, South Africa upset
world number eight Argentina 3-1 after leading 2-1 at half-time to win the bronze medal.
World number 13 SA scored through a trademark penalty corner from top tournament scorer Justin Reid-Ross of Northern Blues while field goals came from Taine Paton of KZN Raiders and Western Province’s Lloyd Norris-Jones.
The bronze medal will also do much for the amateur SA team's morale as they contemplate an expensive trip of over R1 million for the final Olympic Qualifier tournament in Japan in April, where they will have a last chance to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, provided they win the gold medal there.
The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) is not satisfied with the quality of opposition that champions South Africa face in their Africa continent Olympic Qualifier tournaments, which is the route accepted by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The FIH and IOC stipulate that the winners of the Africa continent tournament automatically qualify for the Olympics. However, the final decision rests with the individual country’s Olympic governing body.
SASCOC said if SA reached the Champs Challenge final, that would prove their worth, and despite a performance that saw SA lose narrowly to Olympic qualifiers Belgium - and then India in two fantastic matches - before comfortably beating world Argentina, who are also already qualified for London, the failure to achieve silver in Randburg has now led to a last-chance opportunity should captain Austin Smith’s team win gold in Japan.Results:
(7/8 place playoff) Japan 7 Canada 2; (5/6) Malaysia 3 Poland 0; (3/4) South Africa 3 Argentina 1; (1/2) Belgium 4 India 3.
Goalkeeper of the Tournament: David van Rysselberghe (Belgium)
Player of the Tournament: Sandeep Singh (India)
Joint Top Goalscorers (8): Justin Reid-Ross (SA) and Tom Boon (Belgium)
Fair Play Trophy: South Africa