Handball: South Korea Women Win Asian Qualification Tournament

South Korea’s women’s team booked its spot to the Olympics by winning the Asian Women’s Handball Olympic Qualification Tournament. The qualification tournament was in a five team round robin format where the highest ranked team qualified to the Olympics. The Asian Women’s Handball Olympic Qualification Tournament was held in Nagoya, Japan from October 20th to October 25th 2015.

China was able to start the tournament with a win as they were able to defeat Kazakhstan 28-18. Kazakhstan suffered its second defeat in a row at the hands of South Korea which effectively eliminated its chances for a quota. At the same time Japan defeated China on the second day 29-19 to win its second match.

The third day saw South Korea match Japan’s performance against China as they won 34-22. The win guaranteed only one of South Korea or Japan could qualify to the Olympics. The fourth day nearly saw an upset as Japan was able to survive Kazakhstan by winning narrowly 24-23. The loss ended Kazakhstan’s chances for finishing in at least second place and qualifying to the final Olympic qualification tournament.

While there was no true final the match between South Korea and Japan essentially acted as one. South Korea was able to take control of the match and led 17-11 by half-time. They continued to extend their lead and were able to win the tournament by a score of 35-21. China took the bronze medal after finishing with a record of two wins and two losses.

As the most successful non-European team and one of the most successful overall South Korea will be looking to expand its medal haul after finishing just outside of the podium in 2012. Japan will get a second chance at one of the final Olympic qualification tournaments. China could also book its spot to the tournament if Asia finishes as one of the top two continents at the Women’s Handball World Championship to be held in December.

Tournament Rankings

  1. South Korea
  2. Japan
  3. China
  4. Kazakhstan
  5. Uzbekistan



Field Hockey: Australia Reigns Supreme at Men’s and Women’s Oceania Cup

Australia reign supreme at both the men’s and women’s field hockey Oceania Cup. The winning team from each tournament was given a spot to the Olympics. Should the winning team have also qualified due to their performance at the 2014-15 World League Semifinals then the spot will be reallocated to the next highest ranked team from the World League. The Field Hockey Oceania Cup was held in Stratford, New Zealand from October 21st to October 25th 2015.

Only three teams took place in the women’s tournament where powerhouses New Zealand and Australia defeated Samoa 31-0 and 25-0 respectively sending both teams to the final. The final group game did not matter, but both teams traded field goals as the game became tied at half-time. New Zealand took the lead in the third from a penalty corner by Olivia Merry, but Australia was able to respond with a penalty corner themselves as Jodie Kenny tied the game with about four minutes remaining. The game ended in a 2-2 draw to set the backdrop for the final.

The final was good news for Japan since both Australia and New Zealand have previously qualified from the World League semifinals which means one of the newly vacant spot after this tournament will be reallocated to Japan.

New Zealand took a very early lead from goal by Petrea Webster, however, in the second Australia managed to tie the game when Laura Barden scored. The game would remain tied for the rest of the match forcing the championship title to a shoot-out. Australia won the shoot-out 2-1 to give them the title.

The men’s tournament contained four teams with powerhouse Australia and New Zealand taking on Fiji and Samoa. Unlike the women’s tournament this tournament matters for New Zealand as they were unable to secure a spot from the World League Semifinals. Should Australia win, their World League spot will be reallocated to Ireland.

As expected Australia and New Zealand easily defeated Fiji and Samoa with double digit defeats as the two nations qualified to the final. The group stage match between Australia and New Zealand began with a first minute lead for Australia. Afterwards the two nations traded chances until Australia was able to go up 2-0 with a goal from Thomas Craig. New Zealand made the match interesting when Hugo Inglis scored with five minutes remaining, but Australia put the game away with a goal from Glenn Turner to win the match 3-1.

In the final Australia took an early 2 goal lead within the first six minutes. New Zealand was able to pull back one in the second to bring the score to 2-1 in half-time. A goal by Trent Mitton late in the third gave Australia some breathing room, but New Zealand wasn’t done yet as Kane Russel scored in the fourth, but sadly the comeback was not to be as Australia won the match 3-2, which means Ireland qualifies to the Olympics due to reallocation.

This was New Zealand’s final opportunity to qualify in the men’s tournament. Their only hope would be if a team withdraws from the Olympics. It could happen, especially if South Africa wins the African championship due to the nation having very tough qualification standards.

Women’s Tournament Rankings

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. Samoa

Men’s Tournament Rankings

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. Fiji
  4. Samoa


Sailing: Eleven Nations Qualify After RS:X World Windsurfing Championships

China and France were crowned champions at the 2015 RS:X World Windsurfing Championship. In terms of Olympic qualification the top six nations from the men and women events not yet qualified will be given a quota to compete. The RS:X World Windsurfing Championship was held in Al Mussanah, Oman from October 19th to October 24th 2015.

The men’s RS:X was split into two groups for the first six races before the top sailors were combined to form the gold fleet. In total 20 nations were eligible for Olympic qualification. After the six qualifier races Pierre Le Coq of France was by far the most impressive sailor as he won four races and finished within the top three in the other two as he took the early lead. Despite his string of great results he was only six points ahead of Zhichao Zhi of China and Ivan Pastor Lafuente of Spain going into the gold fleet. In terms of Olympic qualification eight eligible nations qualified to the gold fleet while the others will only play for ranking in the silver fleet.

Le Coq was more or less able to maintain his lead over the gold fleet, but was never able to extend it as he entered the medal race with a three point lead over Zhichao and his compatriot Wang Aichen and could potentially finish as low as seventh should results go against him. However, Le Coq finished the medal race in fourth which was just enough to ahead of Wang as he won the event by 1 point. Zhichao on the other hand had a poor medal race and was ultimately passed by Dorian van Rijsselberge of the Netherlands for bronze. The six Olympic quotas went to sixth place Switzerland, South Korea, Hungary, Hong Kong, Portugal and Mexico which meant Ukraine and Belarus were the odd teams out in the gold fleet.

The women’s RS:X was also split into two groups for the first six races where the top sailors were combined to form the gold fleet. In total 17 nations were eligible for Olympic qualification. China’s Chen Peina won the first three races and had the overall lead by the end of the qualification races though she was only slightly ahead of her competitors with Charline Picon of France and Poland’s Malgorzata Bialecka following closely behind. Only three eligible nations made the cut for the gold fleet which means Hong Kong, Japan and Norway all booked their spots to the Olympics while the other 14 nations were left to fight for the other three in the silver fleet.

Bialecka was able to take the lead at the end of the first day of the final round races as the push for gold came down between her and Chen. However, a poor second day from Bialecka was enough to give Chen the gold medal as her lead made the medal race meaningless. She would demonstrate this by finishing last in the medal race. The silver and bronze medals went to Bryony Shaw of Great Britain and Lilian de Geus of the Netherlands respectively. The other three quotas went to Australia, Denmark and Greece.

All nations will get one more opportunity to qualify at their respective continental qualifiers. With many of the top nations already qualified it will be interesting to see who else will grab the final spots.

Quotas by Nation

  • Hong Kong – 2
  • Australia – 1
  • Denmark – 1
  • Greece – 1
  • Hungary – 1
  • Japan – 1
  • South Korea – 1
  • Mexico – 1
  • Norway – 1
  • Portugal – 1
  • Switzerland – 1


Diving: African Championship Cancelled as Spots Reallocated to World Championships

Egypt and South Africa qualified spots to compete at the Olympics in diving. With the confirmation that no African diving championships will be held FINA has reassign the quotas to the best African nations at the 2015 World Aquatic Championships. The top ranked African nation in each of the individual events was given a quota to compete. The diving portion of the World Aquatics Championship was held in Kazan, Russia from July 24th to August 2nd 2015.

The men’s events were a formality as Egypt was the only African nation to send athletes. In the men’s 3m springboard it was Mohab El-Kordy whom defeated his compatriot Emadeldin Abdellatif by finishing with a score of 320.25. In the men’s 10m platform Youssef Ezzat finished ahead of El-Kordy to secure a spot for Egypt by finishing with a score of 282.50.

The women’s events had a bit more competition as South Africa also sent divers to compete. They were rewarded with a quota spot in women’s 3m springboard as Micaela Bouter finished ahead of her compatriot Julia Vincent and the two Egyptians with a score of 258.30. Egypt was able to get a third quota in women’s 10m platform where Maha Abdelsalem finished ahead of South Africa’s Jaimee Gundry with a score of 280.75.

While the level in diving in Africa is a bit low I think it is important that they maintain their continental quota even if they did not hold a championship. African nations will get a second opportunity to qualify to the Olympics at the Diving World Cup which is scheduled to be held in 2016.

Quotas by Nation

  • Egypt – 3
  • South Africa – 1


Synchronized Swimming: FINA Confirms African and Asian Qualifiers at World Aquatics Championships

Just an update, FINA has finally confirmed that the Asian and African continental qualifier was doubled during the synchronized swimming portion at the 2015 World Aquatics Championship. The top team from the two continents will qualify in the team and duet while the highest ranked duet not yet qualified from the two continents will qualify a duet. The synchronized swimming portion of the World Aquatics Championship was held in Kazan, Russia from July 25th to August 1st 2015.

The Asian qualifier was very competitive between China and Japan. China however was able to outdo Japan in the technical routine finishing just ahead of them in both the preliminary and final to win the overall silver medal. With China already qualified the duet only spot easily went to Japan as they were able to win the bronze medal in the technical event.

The African qualifier was quite simple. Egypt was able to win the team and duet quota for the fact that they were the only African team present at the championships. This in turn gave South Africa an easy duet quota as they became the only eligible African nation.

Japan will likely be looking to add a team quota at the final Olympic qualification tournament which also acts as a final qualifier for duets as well.

Athletes by Nations

  • China – 9
  • Egypt – 9
  • Japan – 2
  • South Africa – 2


Football: Zimbabwe Creates History While South Africa Returns After Women’s African Qualification Tournament

South Africa and Zimbabwe qualified to the Olympics after securing their spots at the 2015 African Women’s Qualification Tournament. In total 18 teams registered to compete where four rounds of two legged series were played where the team with the higher aggregate score advances. The two winning teams qualified to the Olympics. The first games were scheduled to occur on April 24th 2015 while the final games were played on October 18th 2015.

No matches were played in the first round as Liberia and Gabon advanced after Guinea-Bissau and Libya withdrew respectively. There were three more teams which withdrew in the second round, namely Liberia, Tunisia and Mali which gave Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Nigeria a bye to the next round. South Africa and Equatorial Guinea advanced to the third round by winning both of their matches over Gabon and Congo respectively with an aggregate score of 8-2 and 7-0 respectively. A late penalty kick goal by Egypt gave them a tie against Cameroon, but the return leg in Cameroon gave them a 3-0 win and a spot in the third round. The away goal rule was used for Kenya and Zimbabwe as both teams finished 2-2 aggregate against Botswana and Zambia respectively.

In the third round South Africa used a pair of 1-0 wins to defeat Kenya on aggregate. Both games between Cameroon and Ghana ended in draws, but a 2-2 draw in Ghana gave Cameroon the win as they had more away goals as the match went 1-1 in Cameroon. Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea had to go to extra time as both matches ended in 1-1 draws. In the 112th minute it was Genoveva Anonma from Equatorial Guinea which scored to give her nation passage to the final round. The matches between Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe had several twists without a ball ever being kicked. Firstly Zimbabwe was unable to secure passage to the Ivory Coast which meant Ivory Coast was given an automatic 3-0 win. However, Ivory Coast was unable to travel to the return leg thus the match was rescheduled, but then Ivory Coast withdrew from the qualifiers giving Zimbabwe a spot in the final round.

The first match of the fourth and final round was between Cameroon and Zimbabwe. In the first match Zimbabwe took an early lead by a goal from Rudo Neshamba, but two second half goals by Cameroon gave them the 2-1 win in the first leg. The second leg also contained an early goal by Neshamba, but this time Zimbabwe was able to hold onto the lead and won 1-0. Zimbabwe ended up qualifying to the Olympics because they scored more away goals.

The second match was between South Africa and Equatorial Guinea. The first match, held in South Africa led to a goalless draw. The second match was again a very defensively played match and it wasn’t until the 62nd minute where the deadlock was broken as Jermaine Seoposenwe scored to give South Africa the lead. Despite a frantic push from Equatorial Guinea they were unable to score which meant South Africa qualified to their second games in a row.

This will be Zimbabwe’s first major international competition in women’s football. This was also the only qualification event for African nations.

Quotas by Nation

  • South Africa – 1
  • Zimbabwe – 1


Sailing: Eight Nations Qualify After 470 World Championships

Australia and Austria defended their titles at the 2015 470 World Championships. The top six men and top three women boats not yet qualified will be given quotas to compete. The 470 World Championships were held in Haifa, Israel from October 12th to October 17th 2015.

The men’s 470 event was split into two groups; blue and yellow for the first five races. In total 16 nations were eligible to qualify to the Olympics. Australia’s Mathew Beicher and Will Ryan dominated the first five races by winning three and coming in second in one. After five races the top 30 boats were placed into the gold fleet while the other boats were placed in the lower tier silver fleet. In terms of Olympic qualification this narrowed the field to eight nations.

Australia’s lead was challenged by Croatia’s Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic as they had top placements and even took the lead part way through. Going into the final race Australia held a narrow lead of 1. Australia clinched the gold medal by placing fourth in the match race while Croatia’s sixth place finish gave them silver. Bronze went to Russia’s Pavel Sozykin and Denis Gribanov. Fifth place Finland and ninth place Germany were the two highest ranked nations to qualify to the Olympics. The other qualifiers were Argentina, Turkey, South Africa and Israel which meant China and South Korea were the ones left out, though for China they previously qualified as Asian champions (2015 World Championships have higher priority than continental qualifiers).

For the women’s 470 all boats were placed in one group while 13 nations were eligible to qualify to the Olympics. Poland’s Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Irmina Mrozek Gliszczynska took the early lead, but a few bad races pushed them out of title contention as Austria’s Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar and Great Britain’s Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark fought for the lead at the midway point. After the 8th race Great Britain had a narrow lead, but two bad races eliminated Great Britain from the gold medal as Austria won the event before the medal race begun.

Going into the medal race only four eligible nations remained for Olympic qualification. Poland and Germany were guaranteed a spot meaning Australia and Spain were left fighting for the final spot. Spain however needed to finish six spots higher than Australia to qualify. Australia prevented that from happening by finishing in sixth to book the final spot. With Austria winning gold the silver went to Great Britain while the bronze went to France’s Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance.

This was the final opportunity for Asian nations to qualify in this event, but the other continents will have a chance to qualify via their continental qualifiers. With South Africa qualifying in the men and Australia qualifying in the women it opens things up in those continents for less experienced nations to attempt to qualify.

Quotas by Nation

  • Germany – 2
  • Argentina – 1
  • Australia – 1
  • Finland – 1
  • Israel – 1
  • Poland – 1
  • South Africa – 1
  • Turkey – 1