End of an era: Rocky hockey legend announces retirement
AFTER an illustrious career hockey legend and captain of the Kookaburras, Mark Knowles, is putting down his hockey stick for good.
The Rockhampton-raised sports star is retiring after a lifelong love affair with the sport that has taken him across the world.
The 33-year-old defender made the announcement in Brisbane this afternoon ahead of the Gold Coast's Commonwealth Games where the Kookaburras will play for a sixth consecutive gold medal.
"I've been thinking about this for a little while, where I was going after the Rio Olympics campaign and I didn't want to finish on that note,” Knowles said.
"Since then moving away from the programme in Perth to Brisbane has been really nice for me to work on some things on my own, but also to begin the transition and life after hockey, which is important to me.
"I've prided myself on my application, my ability to inspire and play well in big moments.
"You've got to be really driven to play in the number one team in the world and be the leader I want to be. It takes a lot of effort and commitment.”
He said after reflecting on his personal feelings and goals, he realised his motivation wasn't what it used to be and where he needed it to be.
"I've thought it over and spoken with my most trusted people and my family and I feel at a really nice stage in my career where I don't feel I'm in decline or that I've stagnated as a player,” he said.
"I really feel at a point where I'm satisfied and I'm looking for something else.
"The reason for announcing it now is I'm always an open upfront person who didn't want to be holding back from team-mates who I'm working with, playing with and being around every day until the Commonwealth Games.
"I feel like I'll leave the game with the team in a great spot and I know the guys have the ability to drive forward in the coming years.”
Looking back on his whirlwind career, Knowles added that he has been able to get "absolutely every bit of talent” out of what he has.
"I'm someone who has pride in myself in my ability to work hard, do extra and adapt to the new style and the way the game has grown in the past 15 years,” he said.
"I've been incredibly lucky to be supported by many wonderful coaches and athletes over my playing career and I can't thank them enough.
"You add success to it, being in the number one team in the world for 10 of those 15 years, it's an amazing time to reflect.”
Knowles is one of six Kookaburras to reach 300 caps and currently has 312 caps under his belt as well as 29 scored goals.
"Where I am now in my career with my balance in my life has made this decision easier for me,” he said.
"I have a fantastic job at the Queensland Academy of Sport which allows me to work with up-and-coming elite athletes in high performances programmes every day of the week.
"I've got my own coaching business with Jamie Dwyer and myself. I've got a beautiful family with a wonderful wife who has supported me for so long now with all of our trips away.
"She's ridden the journey. I've got kids (Flynn, Luca and Frankie) who have watched me at the Olympics, the World Cup and hopefully the Commonwealth Games.
"I'm in a really good place, I'm really looking forward to what life is after high performance hockey. Hopefully it remains in high performance sport. There's always nerves when you go into new things but it's also really exciting.”
MARK KNOWLES - Fact file:
*312 caps, *29 goals - Debut January 10 2004 v Korea, Azlan Shah Cup
1 Olympic Gold Medal (2004)
2 Olympic Bronze Medals (2008, 2012)
2 World Cup Gold Medals (2010, 2014)
4 Champions Trophy Gold Medals (2005, 2008, 2009, 2012)
- 3 Commonwealth Games Gold Medals (2006, 2010, 2014)
2 World League Final Gold Medals (2014-15, 2016-17)
1 FIH World Player of the Year (2014)
1 FIH Young Player of the Year (2007)
*subject to change