Indian defender Sunita Lakra calls it quits

The 28-year-old has been forced into retirement in the Olympic Year owing to her nagging knee injury

Former captain of the Indian women’s hockey team and a reliable force in the defence, Sunita Lakra announced her retirement from international hockey on Thursday owing to a persistent knee injury.

In a statement released by Hockey India, the 28-year-old said, “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.”

Sunita Lakra made her international debut in 2008. Image courtesy: Hockey India
Sunita Lakra made her international debut in 2008. Image courtesy: Hockey IndiaSunita Lakra made her international debut in 2008. Image courtesy: Hockey India

Lakra, who completed 150 international caps during India’s tour of South Korea in May last year, also took a moment to look back the journey that she’d been on with a team she calls family away from home, “I had been part of this wonderful journey with the Indian Women's Hockey Team since 2008.”

“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. 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.”

Making her debut in 2008, Lakra slowly went on to become an integral member of the Indian women’s hockey side as the team rose through the ranks to establish themselves as a force to reckon with in the past decade.

The great wall of Sunita Lakra

The Rajgangpur, Odisha, the defender was a part of the Indian team that won a bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games and then went on to better that performance with a silver at the 2018 Games in Jakarta.

Lakra was also among the team that took Indian women’s hockey to the Olympics after a gap of over three decades, at the Rio Games in 2016.

Shedding light on her future plans, the Indian assured that she will continue playing the game at the domestic level for her employers NALCO post her recovery from the latest setback that would see her go under the scalpel yet again. 

“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. 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.

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