Monday, December 6, 2021

India wins the FIH Annual Honors despite Belgium being the Men’s Olympic Champion

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On Wednesday, India swept the International Hockey Federation’s annual awards, taking home all of the top prizes based on a voting method that was slammed as a “disaster” by men’s Olympic champions Belgium, forcing the FIH to say it will look into why some associations did not vote.

After receiving the most votes, five Indian players and head coaches from both the men’s and women’s teams in Tokyo were named winners in various categories. The men’s hockey team had won bronze in the Tokyo Olympics for the first time in 41 years, while the women’s team had finished an unprecedented fourth.

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Harmanpreet Singh was named ‘Player of the Year in the men’s division, while Gurjit Kaur was named the top player in the women’s division. In the men’s and women’s divisions, veteran P.R. Sreejesh and Savita Punia were named best goalkeepers, respectively, while teenage striker Sharmila Devi (women) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (men) were named best rising talents.

Harmanpreet and Gurjit, the drag-click duo, were the top scorers for their respective teams during the Games. Graham Reid, the men’s team coach, and Sjoerd Marijne, the women’s team coach, were also named the best. Reid is still with the team, while Marijne’s contract expired after the Tokyo Olympics.

Hockey Belgium responded angrily to the winners’ announcement, questioning the process since none of their Tokyo Games champions received an award. National Association votes (represented by their respective national captains and coaches) accounted for half of the total vote, while fans and players (25 percent) and media (25 percent) accounted for the other half.

It’s worth noting that only 19 of the European bloc’s 42 associations voted, compared to 29 out of 33 in Asia. After the votes were counted, the nominations from Belgium (men) and the Netherlands (women), who were not only declared Olympic Champions but also won the 2020-21 FIH Hockey Pro League, came in second and third, respectively, behind the Indians.

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Alexander Hendrickx and Arthur van Doren of Belgium were chosen the second and third best men’s players, respectively, while Vincent Vanasch of Belgium was selected as the second-best goalie and Shane McLeod of New Zealand was named the second-best coach.

Eva de Goede and Frederique Matla of the Netherlands finished second and third in the Player of the Year accolades, respectively, while Alyson Annan of Australia took second place in the FIH Coach of the Year award. Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch of the United Kingdom, rising star Fiona Crackles of Australia, and coach Mark Hager of Australia all finished third in their respective categories.

Due to the influence of the COVID-19 global health epidemic on the international calendar, the FIH Hockey Stars Awards were postponed in 2020. This year’s awards covered the period from January 2020 through the conclusion of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, according to the FIH.

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