Five announce international retirements

Crista Cullen scores for GB v Argentina - Olympic Test Event Final

Five members of the England and Great Britain hockey squads have today announced their retirements from international hockey. From the women’s squad, goalkeeper Beth Storry and penalty corner specialist Crista Cullen, both of whom won Olympic bronze at London 2012, have ended their international careers. And from the men’s squad, triple Olympian Ben Hawes, double Olympian Mark Pearn and Ken Forbes have announced their retirements from the very top level of the sport.

Thanking all five athletes for their contributions to the national team, England Hockey Performance Director Danny Kerry said: “Each of these athletes has in their own ways contributed massively to the national teams. The commitment they have each shown is testimony to their characters. We are very grateful for all they have given to the national teams and hockey in this country. I would personally like to wish them well with their future directions in life and I hope they will retain their links with us and the sport.”

For nearly a decade Crista Cullen (pictured above), 27, has been one of the best known stars of the women’s game, representing her country at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. A feared penalty corner specialist, the Lincolnshire-born defender has been listed in the World All Stars Team three times - in 2006, 2007 and 2010 – and played a pivotal role in England’s rise up the world rankings. She bows out on the back of winning Olympic bronze at London 2012 where she finished joint top scorer with four goals. Fittingly, she found the back of the net in the last of her 171 international appearances, against New Zealand in Great Britain’s historic 3-1 victory. It was her 56th international strike.
A fierce competitor, Cullen helped England to a first ever World Cup bronze medal in 2010, the Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy bronze medals in the same year, and four European Championship bronze medals in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011, In 2012, she helped Great Britain to the country’s best ever finish at a world level tournament – silver at the Champions Trophy.
 
Announcing her retirement from international hockey, Cullen said: “After much deliberation I have finally decided to hang up my stick. I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who played their part in my international career, no matter how big or small. Together as a united squad we were able to be a part of something amazing, of which I am very proud and will remember fondly as I move forward in my new challenges. I have no doubts that the new programme will have same the passion, fight and desire as the last and would like to wish everyone the very best of luck, I will, of course, be watching with interest from afar."

Keen adventurer Cullen has returned to Kenya, where she spent much of her childhood, to pursue a Marketing and Sales Manager role for one of the leading security companies and exploring her deep passion for conservation, trying to do her part in helping fight the devastating massacre of elephants for ivory.

Capped 115 times for her country, Beth Storry (below), 34, competed for Great Britain at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and was a member of the GB side that won Champions Trophy silver in 2012. Her outstanding performances between the posts helped England win bronze medals at the 2007, 2009 and 2011 European Championships, a bronze medal at the 2010 Champions Trophy in Nottingham and a first ever World Cup medal, bronze, in 2010. Widely acknowledged as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, the Reading-born stopper was named in the 2010 World All Stars Team and picked up the annual Hockey Writers’ Club UK Women’s Player of the Year Award in 2008 following her performances at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Olympics 2012 Beth Storry 450

Announcing her retirement from international hockey, Storry said: “Representing both England and Great Britain at hockey for the past seven years has been such an incredible honour. The past three years have been, without question, the best three of my life. If you had to ask me what my perfect job would be, then it would be playing hockey and being on the pitch or in the gym with my friends. To describe the programme and what it means to be part of it is impossible and something that you can't understand unless you have been part of it. I have some wonderful memories from the past years and I have been lucky enough to have made some incredible friends.”
 
Storry will continue to play hockey for Amsterdam H&BC, where she has moved from Investec Women’s Hockey League club Reading. A keen baker, Storry is hoping her next call up will be to the Great British Bake Off or its Dutch equivalent. Away from the hockey pitch, she has recently taken up a role with Nike in the Netherlands.

Another London 2012 Olympian, Ben Hawes (below), has also announced his decision to retire from international hockey after 227 appearances and 45 goals. Sussex-born Hawes, 32, will continue to play hockey for Wimbledon in Conference East of the Men’s Hockey League.

Ben Hawes challenges Australia's Eddie Ockenden while in action for England at the 2010 ABN AMRO FIH Men's Champions Trophy, Monchengladbach (c) www.hockeyimages.co.uk

A former captain of the national team, triple Olympian Hawes led GB to fifth place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was also part of the squad that finished ninth at the 2004 Games in Athens and finished fourth at London 2012, narrowly missing out on the bronze medal to Australia. Hawes retires as the longest standing member of the current England squad, having made his international debut in the summer of 2002. He was a member of the England side that triumphed at the European Championships in 2009, winning gold for the first time, and picked up medals at the 2003 European Championships (bronze) and Champions Trophy (silver).

Away from the hockey pitch, Hawes will resume his career as UK Partnerships Manager at Intercontinental Hotels Group and continue to serve on the British Olympic Association’s Athletes’ Commission.

Speaking about his retirement, Hawes said: “'I will look back at a career of 10+ years with many fond memories and experiences. Whilst I leave the international game with regrets over the way things finished in London I am able to appreciate my time as an international player and look back with pride on what we have achieved as a player group.”

The fourth of the retirees is Mark Pearn, who leaves international hockey after 246 appearances and 74 goals. The double Olympian returned to the England set-up in 2011 after a six year absence following retirement in 2005. He competed in England’s opening match of the 2011 European Championships but sustained a knee injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the tournament in which England won bronze. Pearn, 35, has represented his country at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, three European Championships (in 1999, 2003 and 2011, winning bronze on each occasion), two Commonwealth Games (1998, where England won bronze, and 2002) and five Champions Trophy tournaments (1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2011). He has twice been named UK Men’s Player of the Year by the Hockey Writers’ Club, winning the top prize in 2000 and 2011.

GB Champions Trophy - Men - Mark Pearn and Barry Middleton 450x247

Announcing his retirement, Pearn said: “It has been an incredible honour to represent England and Great Britain at hockey since 1995 and I feel very fortunate to have been able to play for my country over such an extended period of time. Playing at Olympic Games, World Cups and Champions Trophies were highlights for me, but I enjoyed every opportunity to compete against the world's best players, teams and coaches. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me during this time, especially my family, my first coach John Law, and my current employers at Eagle House School and Wellington College, who supported my return to the international team in 2011.”

Now in his eighth season with Men’s Hockey League club East Grinstead, Pearn will carry on as player/coach of the Sussex side while continuing to work as a mathematics teacher and hockey coach at Eagle House School and Wellington College in Berkshire, where he has worked for the past four years.

Ken ForbesThe fifth retiree, Ken Forbes won 10 caps for England and Great Britain after making his debut for England at the Rabo Four Nations Cup in 2011 prior to the European Championships that same year. The former Surbiton defender, 34, holds dual nationality and previously played international hockey for South Africa, competing at the World Cup and Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Forbes said: “Playing hockey and more specifically playing international hockey has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. Since 2001 it’s been a pleasure to represent first South Africa and then England and Great Britain on the field of play. Playing for your country is a special achievement and one that I have always taken immense pride in. I’d like to thank my wife and family for the support given over many years. I’d also like to thank the coaches who invested time in developing me into an international player and my employers for the support over the last two years. Lastly I’d like to thank my team mates who made the long journey so enjoyable.”

Following retirement from international competition, Forbes is hoping to do more hockey coaching and find a new club in Singapore, where he is working for Henderson Global Investors.