Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Hockey Centre, Helleniko Olympic Complex, Hellinikon
Date Started: August 14, 2004
Date Finished: August 26, 2004
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to classification round matches.
After their victory in the Sydney Olympics, the Australian women's team faded, giving other nations the opportunity to win championships. Argentina won the 2002 World Championships while China won their first international title, the Champions Trophy, in the same year. Both these teams were drawn in the same pool in Athens and had already qualified when they met in the final group match, which was won by China. In the other group, the Dutch team remained unbeaten, winning 4-1 over second-placed Germany.
Both semi-finals were closely fought. China and Germany didn't manage to score in regulation time and extra time, after which Germany emerged victorious in the penalty shoot-out. Argentina and the Netherlands did score, twice each, and also had to decide the match by penalty shots. The Dutch won, making their first ever final (no final match was played in 1984, when they won the gold). With the 4-1 loss in the group stage, Germany was considered to be the underdog, but their adapted strategy worked out well. They optimally converted their goal opportunities in the first half, leading 2-0. The Dutch were the stronger team in the second half, but couldn't come any closer than 2-1. The Germans became the fifth country to win the hockey gold since the event was introduced in 1980.