Olympic gold for Belgian hockey players
The Red Lions started as favourites. They have embraced their status with flying colours and have won their first Olympic title in this popular team sport.
The two best teams in the tournament came together in this exciting Olympic final. The Australians finished top of their pools (which included India, Argentina, Spain, New Zealand and Japan), beating the Netherlands in the quarter-finals and Germany in the semi-finals. The Red Lions also qualified for the group stage by going undefeated in their matches against the Netherlands (3-1), Germany (3-1), South Africa (9-4), Canada (9-1) and Great Britain (2-2). They then defeated Spain (3-1) in the quarterfinals and India (5-2) in the semi-finals to reach this Olympic final for the second time in a row, after the one they lost in Rio in 2016 to Argentina.
Living up to their status as favourites, the Red Lions dominated the Australians for the first two 15-minute periods of the match. However, the game remained scoreless. It was not until the start of the third period that Florent van Aubel scored a stunning deflection goal. However, the Australians equalised in the dying moments of the match. So it all came down to a shoot-out. And in this nail-biting exercise, thanks to the composure of goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch, the Belgians could raise their sticks in triumph.
European Champions, World Champions, and now Olympic Champions, what an exceptional generation!