Sanni Hakala, a women’s hockey player from Swedish club HV71, is paralyzed following a freak accident during Friday’s game against Djurgarden IF, the 26-year-old announced via Instagram.
Hakala suffered a neck injury after colliding with a goal post. She was driving towards the net with pace from the outside and attempted to get past her defender before losing her balance and sliding into the post. The game was eventually cancelled and Hakala was rushed to hospital for an emergency surgery.
“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,” Hakala wrote on Instagram. “Not only am I 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 also revealed that she has limited function in her arms and hands following the accident.
A decorated veteran for the Finnish national team, Hakala has won two Olympic bronze medals in 2018 and 2022. Hakala has been serving as captain for HV71 beginning last season and was off to an excellent start to her latest campaign with 13 points in 16 games.
Despite the harrowing injury, Hakala expressed optimism about what the future holds for her.
“This situation obviously sucks but I’m not scared to take it on," she added in her post. "I don’t know what I’m going to do next but I know it will be [expletive] awesome!”