Anna Thorpe lines up with the Black Sticks
(Photo: Photo: FIH / Grant Treeby)
Only six months out from the London Olympics, coach Mark Hager says the maturity and strong training ethos that Thorpe and Burrows brought to the side will be missed by everyone in the team.
“Hockey is not a professional sport. Anna and Jan have been juggling full time careers as well as their hockey and that can be really tough. You know when the time is right to retire and although we will all miss them, I support them in their decision,” says Hager.
Burrows and Thorpe grew up in Whangarei, playing in the same school team at Kamo Intermediate and in the First Eleven at Kamo High School.
With 55 test caps to her name, Thorpe has been in the team that won the 2009 FIH Champions Challenge, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games when they brought home silver, and last year was a key player in the 2011 FIH Champions Trophy team that claimed the bronze.
“The memory that stands out is that trip to South Africa for the Champions Challenge. It was my first time travelling with the team and to win was amazing and really the beginning of the team’s success. Mark had just taken over as coach and the team started to believe that we could rise in the rankings,” says Thorpe.
With the team about to take on the world’s best at the FIH Champions Trophy next week in Argentina, Thorpe says it will be a real test to gauge where they are positioned and what the team’s focus will be in the next six months.
“I have high hopes for the team. I will be cheering so loud from Whangarei that they will hear me on the turf at the London Olympics! They are such a talented group of people – the players and the management. I will miss seeing them 3-4 times a week, they are like family to me,” says Thorpe.
“I had been considering retiring for a couple of months. I knew that if I was contemplating whether I should continue or not, that I wasn’t fully committed and I can’t do that to the team in an Olympic year,” says Thorpe.
As the full-time Head Teacher at Comrie Park Kindergarten in Whangarei, Thorpe is looking forward to concentrating more on her career. “The kindergarten has been so supportive and understanding in the last three years of my hockey commitments, it will be great to now have the time to give 100 percent to my job,” says Thorpe.
For Burrows she felt that having missed selection for this year’s FIH Champions Trophy, it was going to be a tough road to break into the 16-player Olympic side.
“After being in and out of selections over the past year, when I missed selection for this year’s Champions Trophy, I had a good chat with Mark and spent the summer thinking about if I could fully commit to the programme in such a busy and important year for the squad and decided it was time to hang up the stick on international hockey,” says Burrows who is full time Marketing Manager at New Zealand Golf.
“When Mark selected me in the squad sixteen months ago I wanted to give it a good shot and try to get to London, I feel I have given it my best and am now looking forward to being able to concentrate on work and a career as juggling both was a big challenge!” says Burrows.
Hager says Burrow’s outstanding fitness levels and work ethic was admired by the team and she was never afraid of going that extra mile.
“I will miss the girls and being a part of a high performance environment. The way that Mark has structured the programme and his organisation means that it was very special to be part of, and I have no doubt they will do well in the next six months,” says Burrows who has tickets to all the Black Sticks Men’s and Women’s games at this year’s Olympics.
Burrows thinks that at times it may be hard sitting in the stadium in London and not being on the turf, but she is still very excited about being there to support the team knowing she helped them on their journey.
Despite not wearing the silver fern, Thorpe and Burrows will still play club and regional hockey. Thorpe plays for Maungakaramea Club and for Northland in the National Hockey League (NHL). Likewise, Burrows will continue to play for Somerville Hockey Club and in Auckland’s NHL team.
The retirement of Burrows and Thorpe, has given Petrea Webster (aged 23) and Melody Cooper (aged 28) the opportunity to join the 2012 National Squad and be given a shot at Olympic selection.
Webster was in the 2011 National Squad and has eight international test caps, which includes playing in the 2011 Argentina test series at North Harbour.
Cooper (nee Rowe) has been based in Australia as captain of South Australia’s Southern Suns, leading the team to victory at the 2011 Australian Hockey League (AHL). She will move across to Auckland and centralise with the Black Sticks squad in late February.
“The selection panel believe that Cooper, as an experienced senior player will add value to the group both on and off the field. Kayla Sharland and Clarissa Eshuis played with Melody in the Australian Hockey League in 2011 and Melody played with a number of Black Sticks in the 2011 NHL competition for the Central Region,” says Hager.
Source: Hockey NZ