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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 April, 2004, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
India loom large in hockey
The Netherlands beat South Korea in the 2000 Olympic final.
The Netherlands beat South Korea in the 2000 Olympic final

Hockey is among the most ancient of sports, with records of a ball and stick game dating back to the earliest civilisations.

A similar game was popular throughout medieval Europe, and the name hockey is thought to derive from the French hocquet, or shepherd's crook.

The sport we know today originated in 19th Century England, possibly as a winter variation on the traditional summer sport of cricket.

Blackheath Football and Hockey Club was founded in London in 1861 and at nearby Teddington, much of the modern game was developed.

A spherical ball replaced a rubber cube and the striking circle, in which players can score goals, was incorporated into the rules of the men's Hockey Association, founded in London in 1886.

The All England Women's Hockey Association followed in 1895, while in the same year England beat Ireland 5-0 in the first men's international match in London.

England's women lost 2-0 against Ireland the following year when the first women's international was played in Dublin.

DID YOU KNOW?
The longest game in Olympic hockey history lasted 2hrs 25mins when the Netherlands beat Spain 1-0 in 1968
As the British Empire increased in size the sport was spread around the world and men's hockey joined the Olympics in 1908, although the women's game did not feature until 1980.

India dominated the sport in the first half of the 20th Century, winning all six Olympic gold medals and 30 consecutive games from 1928 to 1956.

Pakistan had two victories in the 1960s and also won the first ever hockey World Cup in 1971, before West Germany became the first Olympic champions from Europe in 1972.

Zimbabwe took the inaugural women's title in 1980 but since then Australia have dominated with three wins, while the Netherlands head to Athens as winners of the last two men's gold medals.

MEDAL TABLE
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Men (since 1908; top five)
India 8 1 2 11
Pakistan 3 3 2 8
Great Britain 3 2 4 9
The Netherlands 2 2 3 7
West Germany 1 2 0 3
Women (since 1980; top five)
Australia 3 0 0 3
The Netherlands 1 0 3 4
Spain 1 0 0 1
Zimbabwe 1 0 0 1
South Korea 0 2 0 2





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