India women hockey team defender Sunita Lakra on Thursday announced her retirement from international hockey citing a knee injury that would need another surgery. Lakra said she wished to be part of India’s second successive Olympic appearance but yet another injury has ended her dream. Also Read - India Men's Hockey Team Plays Out 4-4 Draw Against Argentina in Second Practice Match
“Today is a very emotional day for me as I have decided to retire from International Hockey,” Lakra said in a statement on Thursday. “I had been part of this wonderful journey with the Indian Women’s Hockey Team since 2008 and through this journey we have seen many ups and downs but we remained as one unit, giving each other the strength and motivation to remain strong and fight all the odds to excel and bring laurels to the country. Also Read - India Men's Hockey Team Announced for Argentina Pro League Matches
The 29-year-old was part of India squad that qualified for the Olympics for the first time in 36 years in Rio apart from being a member of the side that won the 2018 Asian Games silver medal and bronze in 2014. Also Read - India Hockey Legend And World Cup Winner Michael Kindo Passes Away at 73
“I was very fortunate to have played at the Rio Olympics in 2016, India’s first appearance in over 3 decades. Many people told me it was a historic moment for women’s hockey in India but I always believed this team can achieve so much more. As much as I wish to be part of the Indian team as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, my knee injuries have cut short my dream,” she said.
Lakra was the captain of India during the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy where they finished second. In all, she played 155 matches but she’ll continue playing domestic hockey following her treatment. “I have been told by the doctors that I would be requiring another knee surgery in the coming days and I am unsure how long it would take before I fully recover. Pursuant to my treatment, I will play domestic hockey and play for NALCO who have supported my career by providing me a job.”
She thanked her family, teammates and coach Sjoerd Marijne for their support. “I would like to thank my teammates, Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne and the team support staff. My heartfelt thanks to Hockey India who ensured I was given the best treatment during my injury and I am grateful for their unparalleled support to women’s hockey.”
She continued, “My family, my husband and friends back in Odisha have been my strongest supporters and I wish to thank them for helping me pursue my passion for hockey. I could not have come this far without their encouragement. Lastly, I wish all my teammates the very best as they begin the New Year with a new goal to win a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I will miss being part of this fantastic team!”