Sam Ward: Great Britain and England hockey player fighting for career after eye injury

Sam Ward: Great Britain and England hockey player fighting for career after eye injury

Ward, 28, has been told damage to the retina is partly irreversible after he was struck in the face during the Olympic qualifying play-off win against Malaysia on November 3.

He scored twice in the match to help book Great Britain's place at next year's Games in Tokyo.

Ward underwent surgery on November 13 to reconstruct his cheek after suffering facial fractures but it will be a number of months before the extent of the injury will be fully known, Great Britain Hockey said.

"I may get some sight back, but this won't be a quick process, and whether it will be sufficient for me to get back to playing international hockey only time will tell," Ward said, contrary to reports he had already decided to retire.

"It is a tough pill to swallow but, as people know, I am not one to give up easily and I will do everything can to make myself available for selection for Tokyo."

Ward told [[Sports23]] he wanted to ignore the medical team's advice to "stay down" in the moments after the injury.

"I just wanted to get off the turf," he said. "If I was being completely honest the one thing that was going on in my head was that my parents were in the crowd so don't stay down and get off this pitch, don't lie here for long."

He had not expected to be later told the sight in his left eye may not come back.

"It went silent," he said. "The physio looked at me, I looked at her. It was a bit unexpected, so I just sat there and was like 'OK'.

"I walked out, rang my dad and cried my eyes out, I'm pretty honest about that.

"It's tough to take but you've just got to be positive otherwise what chance do you have? I have a fully working body, a mild damaged left eye, can I live a perfect life still? Yes I can.

"There's doubt about hockey but I will do everything I can to come back. I'm fit and healthy and I can do things in life."

Great Britain and England Hockey's Performance Director, Ed Barney, said: "At present, our focus is on supporting Sam to the best possible extent and ensuring that he has access to the best medical provision and wider support.

"The players and staff wish Sam well during this challenging period."

Ward represented Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympics and helped England to European and Commonwealth Games bronze in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

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