Hockey: Whitelock hanging up her stick

By David Leggat

Kayla Whitelock has decided to walk away from the Black Sticks. Photo / Getty
Kayla Whitelock has decided to walk away from the Black Sticks. Photo / Getty

New Zealand's most influential women's hockey player of the last decade, Kayla Whitelock is hanging up her stick.

Whitelock, 30, hinted strongly after New Zealand's defeat in their bronze medal playoff at the Rio Olympics in August that was it for her. Confirmation came tonight.

She played 255 internationals, scoring 63 goals as a dominating midfield presence for the Black Sticks. Only five players have scored more goals for the Black Sticks.

In football parlance, Whitelock would be known as a box to box player, a resourceful defender and formidable attacker, and a significant influence in New Zealand's rise to their current fifth ranking.

She took part in four Olympic campaigns, three Commonwealth Games, winning silver and bronze medals, and two World Cups.

Whitelock stepped aside after the 2014 Commonwealth Games for her the birth of here first child, Addison with husband and former All Black George Whitelock, but returned for the Rio Games.

Her debut was in 2003 and her career ran parallel with her good friend, Emily Gaddum, nee Naylor, who retired recently as the country's most capped women's international with 274 caps.

"After my last game in Rio I was emotional and quite disappointed not to come away with a medal," Whitelock said. ''Following some time back home with family I've made the decision to officially retire.

"George and I are looking at having more children as well as spending time with Addison. It's been a great career."

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager, who formed a strong working relationship with Whitelock, paid tribute to her contribution.

"Kayla will be missed not only as a player but also as a person and for her leadership on and off the turf," Hager said.

''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."

- NZ Herald

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