By David Gold

hero fih_road_to_london_01-02-12February 2 - Motorcycle giant Hero MotoCorp has become the title sponsor of the Olympic hockey qualifying tournaments being held in India for the London 2012 Games.

India is staging both a men's and women's qualifying tournament – the Hero International Hockey Federation (FIH) Road to London.

They take place at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi from February 18 until26, though the pitch at the venue has recently come under fire amid reports that it had an uneven bounce.

India's men's hockey coach, Michael Nobbs, hit back though at a press conference, saying: "There are no issues with the pitch.

"It just needs a bit more's absolutely fit to play."

India, Canada, France, Poland, Italy and the United States are competing in the men's tournament, while the hosts will take on South Africa, Italy, Canada, Ukraine and Poland for the women's slot at London 2012.

The two teams who come top in each round robin tournament will play off at the end for a place at this summer's Olympics.

Pawan Munjal, chief executive of Hero MotoCorp, said: "Hockey, being the national sport of the country, holds a special place in our hearts and we are pleased to partner with FIH in presenting the Hero FIH Road to London Olympic Hockey Qualifiers.

"We have always believed in nurturing and supporting various sporting disciplines including cricket, golf, shooting and hockey."

Leandro Negre, the FIH President, added: "Hero are ideal partners for hockey and FIH in that they really help us promote the event and hockey in India.

"Their promotion for the FIH Hockey World Cup in 2010 was fundamental in leading to a renaissance of hockey enthusiasm in India and we hope that the Hero FIH Road to London will build on that.

Hero MotoCorp's partnership with FIH began in 2010 when they were the title sponsor for the men's World Cup.

The company, previously known as Hero Honda, were also a sponsor the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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