Former South African captain and triple Olympian Austin Smith has announced his retirement from International Hockey following the teams run at the Tokyo Olympic games. Smith featured for South Africa 183 times over his career including at the Beijing, London and Tokyo Games.
Smith made his debut against Canada in 2004 in a 2-1 win and would score his first goal for his country against Scotland in 2007. Smith was appointed captain of the team in 2009, a year which would later see him named in the FIH World All-Stars team. Smith would go on to captain the team on 97 occasions in his career.
During this time Smith has been plying his trade for Den Bosch in the Hoofdklasse where he became only the second foreign player in history to score 100 goals and will continue for the next season.
Austin Smith issued his statement on his social media accounts:
“After 17 years playing for the South African men’s national hockey team I have decided to retire from international hockey.
“For the majority of my adult life playing for this team at the best of my ability has been my only goal. At the age of 36 I can honestly say for the first time I don’t feel I can commit 100% to the team any longer, so although I’m sad to be retiring I know it’s the right decision for myself and the team.
I’m truly going to miss things like touring with a great bunch of guys, going to fantastic events all over the world, battling in Africa to qualify for a World Cup or Olympic Games and of course attending those big tournaments as well. These moments have resulted in some tremendous highs along with a few lows, but I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to experience both of these strong emotions.
I hope that the next generation of players will be able to take South African hockey into the top 10 and beyond. It was a dream of mine to be a part of the team that did that, but I will settle for seeing it happen in my lifetime, preferably sooner rather than later guys
My sincerest thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way. The list of people and organisations who have helped me during my career is extremely long. I hope I will be able to thank you all personally. Many people don’t realise how challenging our environment can be at times so to have a support network like I have really makes me very fortunate.
Going forward I’m excited to continue playing with my club team Den Bosch in The Netherlands and continuing my work at the international school of Eindhoven as a primary school teacher.
It’s been an absolute honour representing South Africa for the past 17 years.
Marissa Langeni, CEO of SA Hockey, paid tribute to Smith for a superb career
“Austin was an embodiment of proudly South African from when he started his national career until the moment of his retirement. He is a wonderful ambassador for the game of hockey, but an even bigger ambassador for the country.
Thank you for the service and good luck for the Hoofdklasse season. The number 5 jersey is in a far richer place now than when you started! We look forward to seeing you next to the field and supporting the game of hockey”