Olympic hockey champion Danson-Bennett announces retirement
Hockey

Olympic hockey champion Danson-Bennett announces retirement

20 February 2020 / 15:23
Hockey legend Alex Danson-Bennett claims the time is right to move on to the next phase of her life after announcing her retirement from the sport.

Danson-Bennett was a key cog as Team GB earned an Olympic bronze medal on home soil at London 2012 before going on to win a memorable and historic gold in Rio four years later.

The 34-year-old was joint top scorer at Rio 2016 with five goals and retires as Great Britain and England women’s all-time joint leading scorer with 115 goals in 306 appearances.

She had initially intended to carry on until Tokyo 2020 and help Team GB defend their women’s hockey title but suffered a brain injury whilst on holiday in Kenya in late 2018.

Despite a Herculean effort on her part, it has not been possible to get back to playing for her country but she hangs up her stick as an all-time hockey and Olympic great.

And Danson-Bennett admits that accident has changed her priorities as she now gets ready to attack her post-hockey life.

She 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% 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.”

Danson-Bennett won a senior international medal for ten consecutive years from 2009, including European gold, Commonwealth silver and World Cup bronze.

Following the gold in Rio, she was awarded an MBE for services to hockey, and the four-time FIH World Player of the Year nominee’s final game was in front of a 10,000-strong home crowd in London at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.

And she is thankful for all the opportunities the sport has given to her.

"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,” added Danson-Bennett.

“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.

“I'm privileged to be ending a career in a position where I feel happy. I'm not sad, I'm really happy!”

And while she may not be out on the pitch, Danson-Bennett fully intends to enjoy Team GB’s Olympic title defence in Japan this summer.

She explained: "Now, I will be the number one supporter of the team, I'd love to be in Tokyo watching, I just need to convince my husband!

“I came back to the squad because I believe they are a winning team. I'm sad not to be on the pitch but I will always feel part of it."