04:20PM, Thursday 20 February 2020
Marlow’s Alex Danson-Bennett has announced her retirement from international hockey, claiming her family ‘both old and new’ are now her priority.
In a statement on twitter, Alex said that after a difficult 17 months – following a head injury she suffered on holiday in 2018 – she’d realised she ‘could no longer be the athlete she wanted to be’.
She added that it was not an unhappy retirement and said that she’d lived her dream without having ‘one single regret’.
Releasing a statement to coincide with the announcement, Great Britain and England hockey said that they were happy in the knowledge that it is the right decision for Alex and unequivocally supported her in that decision.
They described the 34-year-old Olympic gold and bronze medal winner as a ‘giant of the game’, not only for her achievements on the pitch, but also for the way she’s conducted herself off the pitch, saying she ‘embodies all that is good about hockey.’
Alex had been making huge strides in her recovery from the head injury she suffered while on holiday in Keyna back in late 2018. She had returned to training with her international teammates at Bisham Abbey.
However, her personal circumstances have changed in recent years and, following her head injury, she now has a very different outlook on life.
Alex said: “After a long 18 months but a fabulous 18 years in the sport, it's the right time for me to retire.
"It's been the most incredible journey I could have asked for, but a lot has changed.
“My head injury has been life-changing, also in terms of my perspective and things that have happened within my family. Throughout my career I've been 100 per cent immersed in being an athlete, but my priorities are different now. All of that means it's the right time.
"I've known over the last couple of weeks that it was a decision I needed to come to. It's difficult because this has been my life. It'll be strange moving into something new, but I'm totally thankful and content. I have zero regrets about the way I've lived my career.
"I've lived my career in a manner that hockey has always been my priority, but I've come to that stage where I can't do that and it wouldn't be fair to the team.
“Your family are everything, there are many factors that have led to this decision. The opportunity to spend more time with my family is a gift and I look at it that way.
"Every single session in my career meant something to me, so too the people I played with, the coaches, the staff, I just wouldn't change a thing.”
Great Britain’s performance director Ed Barney said: “On behalf of everyone at Great Britain and England Hockey, we would like to send our very best wishes to Alex. She has been an inspirational figure to all those who have worked with her, to those who have had the fortune to play with her and to many who have watched her exhilarating performances.
“Alex is a truly special person. It is impossible to find the right words to reflect how fortunate we have been to have Alex as part of our sport. We will miss her hugely both on and off the pitch. Having spoken with Alex, we know that she has made an incredibly difficult decision, but one that is right for her. Her achievements in the sport should be an incredible source of pride for her and her family and a motivation to others.”
Alex is Great Britain and England women’s all-time joint leading scorer with 115 goals in 306 appearances. She was joint top scorers as Great Britain won a historic gold medal in Rio 2016 and has a raft of medals including European gold, Commonwealth silver and World Cup bronze. In 2016 she was awarded an MBE for her services to hockey and a year later was voted Great Britain’s captain by her teammates.
GB Hockey plans to formally mark Alex’s career at the FIH Hockey Pro League home game with Argentina at Twickenham's Stoop on Saturday, May 16.
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