Indian women’s hockey team defender Sunita Lakra, who was part of the 2018 Asian Games silver-winning side, on Thursday announced her international retirement, citing a knee injury which would require another surgery. The 28-year-old said the nagging injury has come in the way of her dream to be a part of India’s Tokyo Olympics campaign this year. “Today is a very emotional day for me as I have decided to retire from International Hockey,” she said in a statement issued by Hockey India. In the team since 2008, Lakra captained India during the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy, leading the side to a second-place finish in the event.
In all, she played 139 matches for India and her achievements also included being part of the side that claimed the 2014 Asian Games bronze medal. “I was very fortunate to have played at the Rio Olympics in 2016, India’s first appearance in over three decades.
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 explained.
Lakra said 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,” she said.
“I have come a long way in the sport and I carry with me some great memories with the Indian team who have stood strong by my side and the girls were always my family away from home,” she added.
Lakra thanked her teammates 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.
India captain Rani Rampal said Lakra would be missed.
“Congratulations @sunitalakraodisha26 for a wonderful carrier. Will definately (sic) miss the best moments we have shared on the field and dressing room for more than a decade. Praying for your recovery soon and all the best for your future endeavours,” she tweeted.