One of the Senior stalwart of Hockey New Zealand (Black Sticks) Women’s hockey team, Kayla Whitelock has announced earlier today to retire from international hockey.
In a press release sent today, Hockey New Zealand has quoted the veteran leader to have thought hard before making this decision about her future which recently saw the Black Sticks were beaten by Germany in a gut-wrenching bronze medal match at the Rio Olympic Games. She thought now is the right time to focus on the next step in her life.
In a career spanning around 13 years, Whitelock played 255 tests and scored 63 goals, after she made her international debut in 2003, not to forget her participation in four Olympic campaigns (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016), three Commonwealth Games (Melbourne 2006, Delhi 2010 where the team won the silver medal and Glasgow 2014 which produced a bronze), along with two World Cups in 2010 and 2014.
Speaking about the decision, the Ace Hockey player said, “After my last game in Rio I was emotional and quite disappointed not to come away with a medal. Following some time back home with family I’ve made the decision to officially retire.”
Speaking further about the future, she added, “George and I are looking at having more children as well as spending time with Addison. It’s been a great career and I want to thank everyone who has been there from the start especially my sponsors like TK, Asics, Skins, Balance and also Sir Owen Glenn who has helped really raise the profile of hockey.”
And in a message to fellow team member, she concluded with, “I’m really thankful to have been a part of the team for so long and also for the wonderful friendships I have developed over the years.”
In her statement about the veteran hockey player, Black Sticks Women’s coach Mark Hager said “Kayla will be missed not only as a player but also as a person and for her leadership on and off the turf. Not only is she well respected on the domestic and international stage but she will go down as one of the greatest Black Sticks of all time. Her motto was ‘it’s not about the number of games you play, but the quality of your performance every time you wear the singlet’ and she certainly lived by that in every one of her 255 games.”
Speaking about her game which helped Hockey New Zealand in their campaign at various tournaments, Hager added further, “Kayla encompassed a game built on both defensive and attacking skills, and was an immensely talented player who could win games up front or save them in the back half. A superb hockey player but also a true sportswoman, mentor to many and a great friend to all who crossed her path.”
Concluding his statement with thanking the veteran hockey player for her contribution to hockey New Zealand, Black Sticks Women’s coach said, “Personally I cannot thank Kayla enough for how she welcomed me into the Black Sticks whanau eight years ago. She gave me and all the girls a belief and inspiration to trust that we could achieve a lot of firsts along the way. I wish her, George and Addison all the best for their futures.”