Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Olympic Green Hockey Field, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 10, 2008
Date Finished: August 22, 2008
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to classification round matches.
A week before the Olympic Games, the Azerbaijan Hockey Federation appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the participation of the Spanish women's hockey team. Spain had won the Qualification Tournament held in Baku in April, but two Spanish players had tested positive for doping after their final match against the host nation. However, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) had exonerated the players, who claimed the positive test was part of an Azeri plan to hinder the Spanish women. They had suffered phone bombardments, ill air in the hotel and tampered drinking water during the competition. CAS also dismissed the Azeri charges, allowing the Spanish women to compete.
Top favourites for the title were the Dutch girls. They had won the World Cup in 2006, and were seeking revenge for their upset loss in the 2004 Olympic final. Argentina's "Las Leonas" were expected to challenge, having won the somewhat devaluated Champions Trophy shortly before the Olympics. Outsider for a medal were the Chinese women. After Beijing had been selected as the 2008 Olympic host city, the Chinese had gradually become a top team, led by Korean coach Kim Chang-Back.
The Dutch won all their pool matches, and placed ahead of China. The first match for the Dutch was a 6-0 win over South Africa. Their second goal was scored by Marilyn Agliotti, who had played for South Africa at the 2000 Olympics. In the other group, defending champion Germany topped Argentina. In the semi-finals, an enthusiastic but not very knowledgeable Chinese crowd saw the home team defeat Germany. While the Germans led twice, the Chinese pulled back both times, and took the lead after 58 minutes. In the last second, the Germans earned a penalty corner, but they were unable to convert it. In the other semi, the Dutch had little trouble overcoming the Argentineans (5-2). In the final, much was expected from the teams' penalty corner specialists (Maartje Paumen and Ma Yibo), but they would not play a decisive role. The Dutch were stronger in the first half, but could not convert their advantage until after the break. Two goals, by Van As and Goderie decided the match. For the Dutch women, it was their first gold medal since 1984, while the Chinese women won their first ever Olympic hockey medal.