New Zealand women’s hockey player Gemma McCaw has called time on her bid to compete at a fourth Olympic Games, following the postponement of Tokyo Olympic. The Black Sticks star was part of the national side in Beijing 2008, as well as London 2012 and Rio 2016 where the team secured back-to-back fourth-place finishes.

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The Tokyo Games were postponed by a year to 2021, due to the social and travel restrictions put in place globally due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and McCaw has opted to retire after 246 caps.

After the 2016 Games, she moved away from the sport and gave birth to her first child in December 2018. However, last year McCaw made a comeback in the New Zealand National Hockey League and she returned to the national fold in February intending to qualify for the Olympic 2020 team in Tokyo.

In a statement on Instagram, McCaw said: “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 Tokyo Olympics.”

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.

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So, with that in mind, I’ve decided 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. I’d like to thank my coach Graham and my team-mates for their support as well as my family and friends.

Tributes to McCaw came from across New Zealand sport, including rugby player Kurt Baker, world champion cyclist Kate McIlroy and nine-time Paralympic swimming champion Sophie Pascoe. McCaw will be 31-years-old at the time of the rescheduled Games.

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