Tokyo Olympics: Black Sticks great Gemma McCaw announces international retirement after Games' postponement

Gemma McCaw.
Gemma McCaw. Photo credit: Photosport

Hockey star Gemma McCaw has given up on her dream of a fourth Olympic campaign with the Black Sticks, announcing her retirement from international hockey. 

McCaw was part of the Black Sticks' team in Beijing in 2008 and also helped New Zealand to back-to-back fourth-place finishes at the London and Rio Games.

Following the 2016 Rio Games she decided to step away from the sport, giving birth to her first child in December 2018. 

Last year the 30-year-old made a remarkable return to the National Hockey League, and returned to the Black Sticks in February, with an eye on taking part in Tokyo. 

But the coronavirus pandemic saw the games postponed, and McCaw admits that played a key role in her decision to retire.  

She says that being in lockdown with daughter Charlotte and husband Richie taught her many things, including how important family is. 

"When I came out of retirement to rejoin the Black Sticks last year, I was so excited to be back playing and working towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," McCaw wrote in an Instagram post.

"No one could've imagined a global pandemic getting in the way of that dream, but there are things beyond our control. Lockdown taught me many things, but most importantly those seven weeks at home brought into focus just how important family is. So, with that in mind, I've made the decision to end my Black Sticks journey here.

"I am so glad I gave it another shot and I'm proud to have done this as a mum, but I feel it's time now to focus on our family."

McCaw made her international return in February, scoring in a 2-1 defeat against Belgium. 

Her last match came in a 5-3 win over Argentina on March 1, the Black Sticks' final match before lockdown. 

"Since coming back into the team, it was a real highlight to run out on the field and sing the national anthem alongside my team-mates in front of my family and seeing my daughter [Charlotte] in the crowd," she added. 

Black Sticks coach Graham Shaw said McCaw would be "greatly missed" in the team.

"Gemma really impressed me with her hard-working attitude from the very start," he says. "She is not only a great player but a fantastic person  that will be greatly missed in the black sticks program.

"I would like to wish Gemma and her family all the very best for the future."

McCaw scored 72 goals in 254 games for the Black Sticks.