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Hockey and the Olympic Games From the Nile Valley to the five Balbir Singhs hockey has one of the longest and most illustrious histories of any sport in the Olympic Games Archaeologists have found 4000-year-old sketches of men playing a version of hockey in the Nile Valley of Egypt While the drawings suggest no shin pads mouthguards or synthetic surfaces the primitive stick-and-rock games provide one of the oldest links to todays Olympic Games Similar ball-and-stick games have been linked to the ancient Greeks but modern field hockey to distinguish it from such forms as ice hockey evolved in Great Britain in the late 1800s Introduced into the Olympic Games in 1908 in London it became a permanent fixture in 1928 Womens hockey was added in 1980 India dominated the sport for three decades winning all six Olympic gold medals and 30 consecutive games from 1928 to 1956 The first Balbir Singh who was followed by four more players of the same name who also played for victorious Indian teams scored five goals in a 6-1 gold-medal victory over the Netherlands at Helsinki in 1952 The competition The mens competition at the Sydney Olympic Games will be contested by 12 teams the womens by 10 Regional qualifying tournaments will determine the teams except Australia which gets an automatic berth as host nation In both competitions teams will be divided into two pools for the preliminary rounds In the mens event the two highest-placed nations in each pool qualify for the semifinals The winners of the semifinals meet in the final to play for the gold and silver medals while the losers play off for the bronze In the womens event the top three teams from each pool advance to a medal pool round with each team playing each other team The top two teams after the medal pool matches play each other for the gold and silver medals
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