SCOTLAND and Great Britain international goalkeeper Abi Walker has announced her retirement from international hockey with immediate effect.
Explaining her decision to bow out of the international scene, Walker – a surgeon by profession – said: “Following the Olympics in London I’ve returned to work and my career is now my priority. The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow represents a huge opportunity for our exciting young team and they’ll enter full-time training to prepare for it – but I’ve come to the decision that I won’t be able to match that commitment.
“I’ve had some amazing moments with Scotland and Great Britain, with particular highlights being the Champions Trophy and gaining promotion back to the European ‘A’ Division in 2011.”
Scotland Women’s head coach, Gordon Shepherd, paid tribute to Walker, saying: “Having Abi in the Scotland set-up not only gave us a fantastic, world-class goalkeeper but also someone that the other goalkeepers in the squad could look up to and aspire to be as good as. I would personally like to thank Abi for the time and effort she has given to Scottish hockey and I know that she will be our biggest supporter in the future.”
Walker gained her first cap for Scotland against England in 2009 and represented her country 65 times in all competitions. She last played for Scotland in 2011, when the national side won the EuroHockey Nations Championship II in Poland and claimed a bronze medal at the FIH Champions Challenge in Dublin following a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Spain. Walker played a key role in these successes, with some outstanding performances.
The 31 year-old also won 17 caps for Great Britain, playing in the FIH Champions Trophy in 2012 and being selected as a travelling reserve for the London 2012 Olympics. It was quite an achievement while pursuing a demanding full-time career away from the game.
However, that doesn’t mean Walker will be hanging up her pads for good. “Hockey will still be a big part of my life as I take on new challenges with my club team Surbiton”, she said. “I will miss being part of the Scotland team though and it is such a privilege to be part of that special group. I will look back on it with plenty of happy memories.
“I would like to pass on my thanks to all the players and staff who I have worked with over the last ten years. It was my childhood dream to play hockey for Scotland and I am proud to be one of the lucky few to say that I did it. It was as magical as I dreamed it might be, and it was the people I was there with who made it so.”