Arriving home to his family after six-weeks away at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Shea McAleese was reminded of what he’s got to look forward to in his retirement.
“My little girl Aaria is only 18-months old and as soon as I rocked up home she goes ‘papa papa’ and ran to me and gave me a big cuddle. I was worried she wouldn’t even remember who I was after that long, so that was pretty special,” said McAleese.
The Tokyo Games was the last campaign for McAleese who’s called time on his career after notching up an incredible 320 Games for his country, the third most in Black Sticks history.
“It was actually a bit of a funny way to retire because my family wasn’t there to share the moment with me and we couldn’t leave our bubble in Tokyo. Then we had MIQ and now lockdown, but I’m planning on getting a bit of a crew together at some point to mark it in an appropriate way,” said McAleese.
And there’ll be no shortage of people keen to see off the hockey legend, McAleese has been a mainstay of the Black Sticks men’s team for more than 15 years, playing in four Olympic Games and four Commonwealth Games.
He says although the team didn’t get the results they were after in Tokyo, the Olympic Games have played a huge part in his career.
“I can still remember getting the phone call when I was selected for my first Olympic Games which was Beijing 2008. I was in the movies with my mum and I took the call halfway through the movie, I couldn’t concentrate after that so we had to leave.
“It was a childhood dream to go to the Olympics so to make it to four Olympic Games, I never would’ve expected that, and to play that many games for New Zealand is unreal. I really credit my family for letting me do that and supporting me.”
While he’ll miss the competition and his teammates, McAleese says he’s ready for a more normal life.
“I’m really looking forward to just being at home a bit more and getting to watch my girl grow up day to day,” said McAleese.