NEW DELHI: The sporting world in the year 2018 bid adieu to some big stars, when they bid farewell to their respective sports. As the curtain comes down on 2018, we bring you the list of notable athletes who will not be seen on the international circuit anymore after hanging up their boots.
After not being part of the Indian team for the last two years, veteran Indian opener Gautam Gambhir called it a day in 2018, retiring from all forms cricket in December. Gambhir in a farewell video that he posted on social media said, “the voice which kept saying ‘It’s over Gauti’ whenever he went through a slump in form has finally triumphed over his will to continue. The 37-year-old Delhi batsman announced his decision in a video post on his Twitter handle.
Gambhir last represented the country in 2016 against England in Rajkot. He finished his career on a high by scoring the 43rd first-class century of his career in the Ranji Trophy match against Andhra Pradesh in front of his crowd at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi.
The aggressive opener played a pivotal role in India’s two World Cup triumphs, top-scoring in the finals of the 2007 World T20 in South Africa and then in the 2011 ODI World Cup. Gambhir made 58 Test appearances for India, accumulating 4154 runs at an average of 41.95. His 147 ODI games fetched him 5238 runs, while in 37 T20 Internationals, he scored 932 runs.
Former India hockey captain Sardar Singh surprised one and all with his decision of retiring at the age of 32 in September 2018. His decision came after the Jakarta Asian Games where India settled for the bronze, losing to Malaysia in a penalty shootout in the semifinals. Sardar said he had played enough in the last 12 years and now it’s time for the youngsters to take over.
But his announcement came on a day when he was dropped from the list of 25 for the Asian Champions Trophy and the World Cup. Sardar, who had played 314 matches for India, had been in and out of the team in the last one year or so as he was not included for the Hockey World League Final and the Gold Coast CWG. He was finally offered a lifeline ahead of the Asian Games following a good showing in the Champions Trophy and home series against New Zealand.
Later, Sardar blamed India’s high-performance director David Ian John and former Indian men’s hockey team’s chief coach Marijne Sjoerd for creating circumstances which forced him to announce an early retirement.
Sardar made his senior debut for India against Pakistan in 2006 and since then he had been a vital cog in the Indian team’s midfield. He also captained the national team for eight years, from 2008 to 2016, before handing the responsibility over to PR Sreejesh.
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* Asian Games 2014, Asian Champions Trophy 2016, Asia Cup 2017, Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2009 and 2010, Olympic Qualifier 2012, Hockey World League Round 2 in 2013
The international swimming world was in disbelief in December when America’s Missy Franklin announced her retirement at the age of just 23. The 2012 World Swimmer of the Year had to take this tough decision because of intense pain from shoulder injuries that have troubled her for nearly three years.
“This was perhaps the hardest letter I’ve ever had to write. Today, I announce my retirement from competitive swimming,” Franklin wrote on Twitter.
The USA swimmer was just 17 when she became a household name by winning the 100 and 200 metre backstroke events at the 2012 London Olympics. She went on to add two more gold medals after being a part of the victorious 4×200 m freestyle and 4×100 m medley teams at the event.
Missy first endured shoulder pain in early 2016 but she still made the US team for the Rio Olympics and picked up another relay gold after swimming in the heats.
She also won as many as 11 world championship gold medals, with six of them being bagged at the 2013 Barcelona World Championships.
Fernando Alonso bid adieu to Formula One after the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He ended the season with 50 points. He failed to score a point in his final race for McLaren, finishing a lowly 11th after making up four positions.
Alonso leaves the sport with two World titles which he won with Renault back in 2005 and 2006. The 37-year-old Alsonso participated in 311 Grand Prix in his career spanning 17 years.
Alonso will now chase the Indianapolis 500 title. After winning the Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota in the first attempt in 2018 and the Monaco Grand Prix, Alonso needs just this one title to achieve Motor Racing’s Triple crown and emulate the only driver who has done that so far, Graham Hill.
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The 34-year-old Spanish legend Andres Iniesta decided to hang up his international boots after his team’s exit from the 2018 World Cup. Spain lost 4-3 on penalties to hosts Russia in the last 16.
Iniesta, who scored Spain’s winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, made his debut in 2006 and played an integral role in Spain winning the European Championship in 2008 and 2012 during a glittering 12 year international career.
Iniesta also ended his 22 year stay at Barcelona FC, before moving to Japanese top-flight side Vissel Kobe. He won 32 trophies with the Catalan giants and made 674 senior appearances, having joined the youth set-up aged 12.
AB de Villiers
This can be tagged as one of the shock retirements of the year. It won’t be wrong to say that the cricketing world came to a screeching halt with the sudden announcement of South Africa’s talisman AB de Villiers retiring from international cricket, saying he had ‘run out of gas’.
Known for his 360 degree batting and incredible athleticism on the field, De Villiers announced his decision on Twitter in May saying: “I have decided to retire from all international cricket with immediate effect. After 114 Test matches, 228 ODIs and 78 T20 Internationals, it is time for others to take over. I have had my turn, and to be honest, I am tired,” said the former South African captain. “This is a tough decision, I have thought long and hard about it and I’d like to retire while still playing decent cricket. After the fantastic series wins against India and Australia, now feels like the right time to step aside.”
He scored 8,765 runs in Test cricket with an average of 50.66. The 34-year-old batsman also has a fifty plus average in ODIs, scoring 9577 runs. In the shortest format of the game, ABD made 1672 runs, with 10 half centuries.
He holds the record for the fastest ODI century, achieving the feat off just 31 balls against the West Indies in January 2015.
de Villiers though will continue to play domestic T20 cricket, including in the IPL.
Alastair Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer with 12,472 runs at an average of 45.35 in 161 Tests, signed off his international career with a fairytale hundred at The Oval against India. The left-hander’s Test debut was also against India in Nagpur in 2006 where he hit an unbeaten century in the second innings.
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“There is nothing left in the tank,” said Cook, who captained England in a record 59 Tests. The 34-year-old Cook features fifth on the all-time list of highest Test run-scorers behind Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid.
Cook won two Ashes series as captain at home in 2013 and 2015. He also played 92 ODIs and four T20Is scoring 3204 and 61 runs respectively.
However, Cook will continue to play for his county team Essex.