Luciana Aymar

Was Luciana Aymar the Best Female Hockey Player Ever?

Luciana Aymar was elected a record eight times as the best female hockey player in the world, by the International Hockey Federation.

The IHF voted her the best player in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. Known as the ‘Maradona’ female of field hockey, she is regarded by many in the game as the best female hockey player ever. She claims she was obsessed with reaching the top of the sport, and finally retired in 2014.

What made her hockey's best women's player?

Luciana Aymar was born on August 10, 1977 in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina as Luciana Paula Aymar. She was famed for her dribbling and technical ability on the ball. She could turn this way, and that way with the ball in close control, with lightning speed that likened her to the football legend Diego Maradona, who also hailed from Argentina. In fact, they both hail from Roasio. Her close skills allowed her to weave around players like a gazelle, while she could flip her stick around with the speedy wrist actions of a master. Adept at tomahawks, it was no wonder that the opposing hockey net bulged after she’d been on the rampage. Chipping a ball over her opponent’s toe (stick hook) and gliding past was a common sight for the crowds, who flocked to see this hockey great.

Was it her athletic power that made Aymar the best ever female hockey player?

Famed for her athletic capabilities, combined with her silky skills, she was truly one of the all-time greats of field hockey. She was also known as la maga (the magician) as well as being a master at great passes and flicks, she was more than capable of running the length of most of the field. Outpacing and out-maneuvering the opposition to plant the ball in the back of the net. Her wing play was something to behold, where she would masterly beat three or four players with a weaving dribble and then scoop the ball over the stick of a defender as she cruised past.

Luciana's mental stress to reach the top of the game

Luciana claims she suffered terrible anxiety, due to the pressure she put herself under, especially before games representing Las Lionas (The Lionesses). 

“I hardly slept in a 20-year career. I was always visualizing, too much. I had very big costs, yes. I went through a very hard stage, I was sad, anguished, depressed, I have no shame in telling it…”

Claiming her lifestyle was, “too hard.” She added, “One does a lot of analysis, from everything you experience [when you stop playing]. I am very proud of what I achieved in my career. But later, seeing myself from the outside, the way I was for 20 years … It’s not that I regret, but I would have changed some things …”

Luciana Aymar's Achievements

Individual

  • Champions Trophy’s Player of the Tournament (9): 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014
  • FIH Player of the Year (8): 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013
  • World Cup’s Player of the Tournament (2): 2002, 2010

International:

Argentina Junior

Pan American Games: Gold Medal (1997)

Junior World Cup: Bronze Medal (1997)

Argentina

  • Pan American Games: Gold Medal (1999, 2003, 2007), Silver Medal (2011)
  • Summer Olympics: Silver Medal (2000, 2012), Bronze Medal (2004, 2008).
  • Champions Trophy: Gold Medal (2001, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014), Silver Medal (2002, 2007, 2011), Bronze Medal (2004)
  • World Cup: Gold Medal (2002, 2010), Bronze Medal (2006, 2014)

Club:

Rot-Weiss Köln

European Club Championship: 1998

Real Club de Polo de Barcelona

Copa de la Reina: 2004

GEBA

Liga Nacional: 2008, 2009

Torneo Metropolitano: 2008, 2009

How did Luciana become the best female hockey player?

Backed by enthusiastic parents, she started playing in her hometown of Rosario at just 7 years old. Due to her relentless dedication, her international career stretched two decades, from her under-21 debut in 1994 to her final bow in the 2014 Champions Trophy which saw her lift her 6th gold medal in that competition.

At sixteen years old, amazingly Luciana traveled the 600km round trip every week to Buenos Aires to play her beloved sport, and that dedication and determination was the launchpad to her lasting success. According to a later account, she had to endure loneliness and bad accommodation at Centro National de Alto Rendimiento Deportivo, the center of excellence for athletes in Argentina. She claims CENARD is a much better place to stay in modern times.

She said she wouldn’t have endured those trials if it wasn’t for her friend and former Leona teammate Ayelén Stepnik, who traveled with her every Sunday each week.

In 1997 she played a part in the Argentina junior team that won glory at the Pan American games Junior Championship, and the bronze medal at the Hockey World Junior World Cup. A year later, she made her debut for Las Lionas senior team, finishing fourth at the 1998 Hockey World Cup. Luciana was the youngest Argentine to be accepted into the squad, incredibly, when she was just 16 years old.

In 2008, the federation also gave her distinguished recognition as the best hockey player in history, simply calling her the ‘Legend of Hockey’.

Fans across the world had the honor of watching ‘The Magician’ compete throughout an illustrious career, that will stand unmatched for years. For dedicated fans of the game, thankfully her matches can still be seen in ubiquitous sports clips of great sporting tournaments such as the Olympics and World Championships. Luciana Aymar embodies the spirit of a competitor, and of a player dedicated to be number one in the great sport of field hockey.

 

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