The end of an era

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Sport is undoubtedly a young person’s game. But when should a top-class hockey player retire?

It’s been a week when a 25-year-old Olympian from the southside of Glasgow made her own decision, while others at a more advanced stage of their sporting careers continued to compete on the international stage.

The shock retirement of Laura Bartlett, who with her twin sister started her hockey career with the Titwood-based Clydesdale Western club, will reverberate for some time. Picked as a travelling reserve for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, she was pitched into competitive action when a colleague in the British squad was injured.

Bartlett quickly made her mark, and became a permanent fixture in the GB side, helping them to win the silver medal in the FIH Champions Trophy in Argentina two years ago, and reaching new Olympic heights with a bronze medal at last year’s London Games.

Now she’s decided to go out at the top, eschewing the almost certain prospect of again being picked for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Bartlett, who was the 2011 British Olympic Association Athlete of the Year, won 107 international caps in total, appearing for Scotland 57 times and representing Great Britain on 50 occasions.

She said: “Being part of three Olympic cycles has been fantastic and all the hard work was rewarded last summer when the GB team won the bronze medals.

“However, I have the made the decision to step away from hockey and focus on a career outside of the sport. I am entering a new phase of my life where I have a new job that I wish to concentrate on and building a career.”

n Meanwhile, Giffnock’s Kareena Marshall and a handful of former and current Western players were in Argentina with the Scotland squad, competing for for next year’s World Cup in the Netherlands.

In 40-degree heat, the Scots started brilliantly, with 7-0 victories over Trinidad & Tobago and Brazil, with Western skipper Catriona Ralph, Susan McGilveray and forwards Sam Judge and Holly Cram featuring strongly.

The Scots tied their next game against the USA 1-1, but won the ensuing penalty shoot-out 2-0.

Their winning run came to an end, however, against Uruguay, losing by the odd goal in three, and therefore needed to win their final game against Chile to qualify for the third round.

Sunday’s match turned out to be one of heartache for Scotland. Chile took a two-goal lead, but the Scots fought back to achieve a 2-2 draw at full-time. But, although Scotland again won the penalty shoot-out, the South Americans had won more games outright and Catriona Ralph and her team’s dream of going to the World Cup has ended.