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Finnish hockey star, Olympian Sanni Hakala paralyzed from chest down after in-game collision

Two-time Olympian and Finnish hockey player Sanni Hakala announced that a recent collision during a game left her paralyzed from the chest down. 

She also said the functions in her arms and hands have been reduced following the accident in last week’s Swedish Women’s Hockey League game. Hakala is the captain of HV71.

A few minutes into the game against Djurgården on Friday, she collided with the goalpost. She was taken off the ice via a stretcher, and the game was postponed.

Hakala was eventually taken to a nearby hospital, where she later underwent surgery to address neck injuries, according to a statement from HV71, which was translated into English.

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“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 in a statement on Instagram.

“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. The injury I sustained last Friday after colliding with the goal post has 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.”

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Hakala made her international hockey debut in 2013 with Finland’s Under-18 team.

She went on to win a pair of bronze medals over her Finnish women’s national team career, earning one at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang 2018 and the second in 2022 in Beijing.

Hakala has also been a member of multiple world championship teams, winning the silver medal in 2019. She also earned bronze medals in 2017 and 2021.

HV17 signed Hakala to a contract extension earlier this year. 

She has been one of the club’s top scorers for the past several years, with 2017-18 being her first full year in the SDHL.

“I understand that I am now facing a long and hard fight with my body and the toughest game of my life,” Hakala said. “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,” Hakala’s statement added. 

“This situation obviously sucks but I’m not scared to take it on.”

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