Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Hockey Centre, Helleniko Olympic Complex, Hellinikon
Date Started: August 15, 2004
Date Finished: August 27, 2004
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to classification round matches.
Before the Olympics, there was a dispute over the participation of the home nation, Greece. It is common for the host country to compete in all Olympic team sports, but Greece had no history in field hockey, and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) required them to qualify through normal ways. When they failed to place for the qualification tournament, they were given a second chance in a play-off series against Canada, which they lost 2-0. Now, the Greeks appealled to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ruled in favor of the FIH.
The three top countries of the 2002 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur - Germany, Australia and Netherlands - all qualified from their pool matches in Athens. The semi-final line-up was completed by Spain, 11th in Malaysia, and as in 1996, performing much better at the Olympics. The defending World Champions were toppled by the Dutch (3-2), while the Australians overpowered Spain 6-3. Since the Dutch had gone undefeated in their pool and beaten Australia, they were the slight favorites, and looking for a third consecutive gold medal. They were coached by Australian Terry Walsh, a silver medallist himself in 1976. Although the Australian hockey women had been very successful, the men had never won Olympic gold despite reaching three finals and winning five medals.
The final was a close affair. The Dutch squad took the lead through cousins Matthijs (assist) and Ronald Brouwer (goal). The Australians responded with a second half offensive, resulting in the equalizer by Travis Brooks in the 37th minute. Australia had the best opportunities for the winning goal in the remaining time, but the score remained 1-1. A sudden death (or "golden goal") overtime followed. After 8 minutes, Australia won a penalty corner. The shot was fumbled, but Australia's star player Jamie Dwyer picked it up to clinch the gold. Later that year he would receive the FIH's World Hockey Player of the Year award.