365 day countdown begins

July 27, 2011, 10:02 a.m. (ET)

Forget the Super Bowl.

The starting whistle pierces through the football arena and within a few mere hours ends with a shower of confetti.

In 365 days the marathon of all sporting events commences- making the Super Bowl look like a warm-up lap.

The Olympics is a seventeen day showcase of the world’s top performers- the epitome of all competitions.

For athletes there is no steeper mountain to climb than the first place podium. And the USA Women and Men’s National Teams are beginning their ascent.  

The Pan American Games is the first opportunity the teams are afforded to get an automatic placement into the 2012 London Olympics. The squads will venture to Guadalajara, Mexico from October 19-29 to compete in the tournament which is marked once every four years, perfectly timed to occur a year before the Olympics.

There is a fierce group of contenders facing the thirteenth world ranked USA Women’s Team and the twentieth ranked USA Men’s Team. A total of eight international teams will be battling for a chance to taste Olympic gold. Walking away from the tournament with anything less than first place at the Pan Am Games gives the USA National Teams only one more chance to qualify for the Olympics.

From early January to May of 2012, there are three tournaments held in Belgium, India and Japan. The USA is only permitted to attend one of these events for their second and final attempt to become a part of the Olympics. Of the one hundred and forty four field hockey teams in the world, an exclusive twelve with have the honor of becoming a part of history.   

Though there is a backup plan if they achieve a less than desirable outcome at the Pan American Games, the USA is not looking past October. After all, USA has a pattern to break during their stay at Guadalajara.  For the past five out of six tournaments, the women’s red, white and blue squad has finished second to Argentina. This is the year they’re hoping for a change. Both the USA Women’s and Men’s National Teams have spent countless hours analyzing game film, in the gym and on the turf for this very event.

Their climb to the top begins now - exactly one year, 365 days, until the 2012 London Olympic Games. Looking up and staring at that first place podium and hearing your National Anthem play, is the goal that is within reach for USA.

Let the countdown begin.