Triple Olympian Madonna Blyth retires
7 November 2016
HOCKEY: Australian hockey captain Madonna Blyth has made the decision to retire following a stellar career which saw her play 342 games for the women’s national hockey team concluding at the 2016 Rio Olympic quarter finals.
After making her debut for the Hockeyroos in 2004, Blyth became the most capped Australian player of all time at the 2015 World League semi-final in Belgium in the first game of the tournament against Poland, over-taking previous record holder Nikki Hudson who retired at 303 caps.
Throughout her career, Blyth showed the strength and steely determination required of a leader and in 2009 was made the captain of the Hockeyroos, a position which she has held right through until her retirement.
As captain, Blyth led her team to a double Commonwealth Games gold including scoring the winning goal in the shootout against England at Glasgow 2014, World Cup silver, Champions Trophy silver and World League silver.
Talking about her memories of the sport, Blyth said: “As an athlete, to be able to call yourself an Olympian is what you strive for but to be a three time Olympian is something I will always be proud of. One moment that stands out for me personally is scoring the winning shootout to secure gold for us at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
“There are a couple of girls who I played alongside for many, many years and I would like to mention Teneal Attard, Casey Sablowski, and Rach Lynch who made the journey even more enjoyable.”
Hockeyroo veteran Blyth, who first began playing hockey at the age of five thanks to the influence of her hockey playing mother, went on be named in the World All Stars Team on three occasions in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Triple Olympian Blyth, said of her retirement: “After 12 years it’s hard to walk away from my life as a Hockeyroo but I believe physically and mentally it is the right time. I have taken a lot of time to reach this decision and it has not been an easy one. To do what it takes to be a Hockeyroo takes a great amount of dedication and commitment and I feel as though I wouldn’t be able to give what is required if I chose to play on.
“I would like to say thank you to my mum and dad who have always supported my single mindedness to follow this path and who have spent countless hours and dollars to get me to wherever I needed. My brother Matt and sister Al have always been my biggest supporters and have been almost as passionate as myself about the Hockeyroos- thank you. As athletes, we can often be tired, cranky or stressed so I want to say thanks to Em for putting up with me and helping turn me into a better player.
“Des King has been my coach for over 15 years and I want to say thanks you for everything he has done and the belief he has always shown in me.”
Commenting on Madonna’s career, Hockeyroos interim head coach Jason Duff said: “Madonna has had a fantastic career, and she definitely deserves to be the highest capped Hockeyroos player. You can’t play for that long at an international level without having the qualities that Madonna has, which is a fierce determination to win and succeed, and to continually improve.
“Her ability to read the play has been better than any player throughout the era that I’ve seen for Australia – she knows when to go, when to leave a player, when to meet a contest, when to release the ball and when to eliminate; it’s no surprise to me that she has played 342 games.
“Donny has been a natural leader, presenting herself extremely well both within the group and in the public arena. She has truly honoured the position of captain, which she held for seven years, and I think that shows she was a remarkable leader.”
Blyth leaves the Hockeyroos with 342 career caps and 70 international goals, and will be honoured at the Hockey Australia Annual Awards Night which takes place in Perth tonight.
MADONNA BLYTH CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Debut Game: November 6, 2004 Australia 0 – 1 Germany at the Champions Trophy in Argentina
Final Game: August 16, 2016 Australia 2 - 4 New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
2004 – Debuts for the Hockeyroos in game one of the Champions Trophy in Argentina against Germany
2005 – Won her first silver medal for the Hockeyroos at a home Champions Trophy in Canberra
2006 - Won her first Commonwealth Games at a home games in Melbourne, and first World Cup silver
2008 – Took part in her first Olympic Games at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the Hockeyroos finishing in fifth place
2009 – Named as captain of the Hockeyroos, and won silver in the Champions Trophy in Sydney
2010 – Commonwealth Games Gold in New Dehli, and took part in her second World Cup
2012 – Went to her second Olympics and first as captain for the London Games where the Hockeyroos finished fifth
2013 – Silver at the World League Final in Argentina
2014 – Scored the winning goal in a shoot-out with GBR at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games taking out her third Commonwealth Games Gold; Silver in the World Cup in the Hague
2016 – Competed in her third Olympics at the Rio Games where the Hockeyroos finished in sixth position