New Delhi, January 2: Indian women's hockey team defender Sunita Lakra announced her retirement from international hockey on Thursday."Today is a very emotional day for me as I have decided to retire from International Hockey. 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," Lakra said in a statement. The 28-year-old defender has been a vital member of the Indian squad since 2008. Indian Junior Women’s Team Win 3-Nation Hockey Tournament.

She represented the country in the last Olympics."I was very fortunate to have played in 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," the defender said. This time, both the men's and women's teams have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. If Lakra had continued, she would have definitely been part of the women's team. "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," Lakra 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. The hockey player thanked her "teammates, Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne and the team support staff.

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." "Lastly, 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 added.

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