Sanni Hakala: Finnish Hockey Star and Olympic Bronze Medalist Paralyzed from Chest Down after Freak Collison on Field During Match in Sweden

She worked through the ranks of Finnish hockey, making her international debut with the country's Under-18 team in 2013.

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Sanni Hakala, a two-time Olympic hockey player from Finland, suffered a severe injury, resulting in paralysis from the chest down with restricted function in her arms and hands. The accident happened when she collided with the net in a recent game while playing for her Swedish club team last Friday.

The incident occurred three minutes into the game, with Hakala, captain of HV71, being taken down in the offensive zone by a player from Djurgården. Hakala was stretchered off the ice as officials postponed the game. The 26-year-old was first taken to a nearby hospital before being transported to the University Hospital in Linköping, where she underwent surgery on Saturday.

Freak Accident

Sanna Hakala
Sanni Hakala Instagram

In a translated Instagram post on Thursday, the two-time Olympic bronze medalist shared the repercussions of her head-first collision with the goalpost. "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 wrote.

"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."

She worked through the ranks of Finnish hockey, making her international debut with the country's Under-18 team in 2013.

Hakala achieved success by winning two Bronze medals while representing Finland at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in 2018 and Beijing in 2022.

Sanni Hakala
Sanni Hakala Instagram

She also won a silver medal at the world championships in 2019 and earned bronze medals in 2017 and 2021.

Life-Changing Accident

In April, Hakala had signed a contract extension to continue with the club for her eighth season. The club, in its statement, said that Hakala faces an extensive recovery process.

Sanni Hakala
Sanni Hakala X

"I understand that I am now facing a long and hard fight with my body and the toughest game of my life," Hakala said.

"Now I need to focus all my energy on the rehabilitation so that I can recover as well as possible.

"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.

"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."

Sanni Hakala
Sanni Hakala X

Hakala has been inundated with expressions of support on social media, with many messages written in Swedish and Finnish.

"I am so impressed by your attitude towards the tragic accident that have occurred," read one of the English comments.

"The fight will be long and, above all, tough. But with your mindset, your future will be for the best. May the force be with you for all the challenges you will go through."