A Finnish woman who starred on her nation’s Olympic hockey team is paralyzed after an on-ice collision last week.
Sanni Hakala, 26, won bronze medals at the 2018 and 2022 Olympic Games, according to the New York Post. She is the captain of the team HV71 in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League.
On Nov. 24, she slammed into a goalpost head-first during a game and had to be carried off the ice on a stretcher. The game was later canceled, according to the Mirror.
HV71 coach Ulf Hall said after the injury Hakala was “conscious and talking, but in pain,” the Mirror reported. She “showed movement in her arms,” the coach said, before she underwent surgery in Linköping.
— New York Post (@nypost) December 1, 2023
Hakala provided an update to her supporters on Friday on Instagram.
“It is still hard to understand what has happened, that the crash into the goal post was as serious as it was, that the consequences have become so big,” she said.
“Not only that I am forced to stop playing hockey, something that has been a big part of my life for many years, but that I may be forced to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.”
Hakala said her injury “left me paralyzed from the chest down, with reduced function in my arms and hands. That’s the reality I’m trying to land in.”
“I understand that I am now facing a long and hard fight with my body and the toughest game of my life. I have had amazing support from my family from day one and I know that they will be by my side throughout the whole journey. Without them by my side this would not have been possible,” she said.
Her team said Hakala faces a “long period of rehabilitation” following her surgery.
“Therefore, me and HV71 will not leave further comments regarding my injury or situation and I ask you all to show consideration and respect for me and my family,” Hakala wrote on Instagram.
“This situation obviously sucks, but I’m not scared to take it on. I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I know it will be f***ing awesome,” she said.
The accident was the second freak occurrence in European hockey within weeks.
In late October, former NHL player Adam Johnson died after a skate blade slashed his neck during a game in England.
While some thought the incident was accidental, others believed Matt Petgrave, an opposing player, intentionally lifted his skate before colliding with Johnson.
A manslaughter charge was later filed against Petgrave.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.