Australia captain Knowles to quit international hockey after CWG
Brisbane: Australia's talismanic captain Mark Knowles on Friday announced that he will retire from international hockey after the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April.
Knowles has enjoyed an illustrious career to date, winning a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics along with bronze medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.
He is also a two-time World Cup winner (2010 and 2014), four-time Champions Trophy winner (2005, 2008, 2009 and 2012), former FIH World Player of the Year (2014) and former FIH Young Player of the Year (2007).
Knowles has also won three Commonwealth Games gold medals (2006, 2010 and 2014) and will aim for a fourth on the Gold Coast pending selection in the final 18-member team.
The 33-year-old defender from Rockhampton said the time was right to call time on his international hockey career.
"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 in a Hockey Australia release.
"I felt really positive about staying involved with Colin Batch, Rob Hammond and Anthony Potter as the new coaches. 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," he added.
"Going through how I was feeling and what my goals are, a bit of my motivation didn't feel quite the same as it was and how I need 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. I really feel at a point where I'm satisfied and I'm looking for something else."
Knowles debuted for Australia in January 2004 and is one of only six Kookaburras to reach 300 caps. He is currently on 312 caps having scored 29 goals.
"The reason for announcing it now is I'm always an open upfront person who didn't want to be holding back from teammates who I'm working with, playing with and being around every day until the Commonwealth Games," he said.
"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."
Knowles is married to Kelly with whom he has children Flynn, Luca and Frankie. He also works at the Queensland Academy of Sport as a Personal Development Advisor and runs a hockey coaching business along with fellow national team legend Jamie Dwyer.
Knowles felt that winning the 2004 Olympic gold as a 20-year-old was the best moment of his career.
Coach Batch said: "Mark has been a great player for Australia, he's given us great service and he's been one of the outstanding players in world hockey over that period.
"We've seen his leadership grow from a lead-by-example style to now as a very inspirational leader with not only what he does, but what he says.
"Mark felt the timing was right for him to retire upon the conclusion of our Commonwealth Games campaign. We support that.
"I'm very pleased that he stayed on after the Rio Olympics which has been good for me as coach to have his support as captain.
Hockey Australia president Melanie Woosnam praised and thanked Knowles for his 15-year contribution to Australian hockey.
"We are sad to lose someone of Mark's calibre, not only as a player but as one of the much loved 'sons' of Australian hockey," Woosnam said.