Injury forces Sunita Lakra to retire from international hockey

New Delhi, Jan 2 (IANS) Sunita Lakra, defender in the Indian women’s hockey team, has drawn the curtain down on her international career due to a knee injury which will require surgery.

“Today is a very emotional day for me as I have decided to retire from international hockey,” Sunita said in an official statement.

“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,” she added.

The 28-year-old, who played 139 matches for India, said the nagging injury had come in the way of her dream to be a part of India’s campaign at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

“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. 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,” she said.

Sunita said that after recovering, she would continue to turn up in domestic hockey. “Pursuant to my treatment, I will play domestic hockey and play for NALCO who have supported my career by providing me a job.”

Sunita has been part of the national team since 2008. She led India during the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy where the Indian eves finished runners-up.

“I was very fortunate to have played at the Rio Olympics in 2016, India’s first appearance in over three 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.”

Lakra thanked her team-mates and chief coach Sjoerd Marijne for their support. “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.

“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,” she said.

She also wished the Indian eves for their campaign in the Tokyo Games.

“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!”, she said.