In 2013, Aymar received the FIH Player of the Year award for a record eighth time, setting a benchmark that may never be surpassed. She first received the award in 2001, and was also honoured in four successive years between 2007 and 2010.
Aymar’s hugely successful career included two World Cup victories (2002 and 2010), six Champions Trophies (2001, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014) and three Pan-American Games gold medals (1999, 2003 and 2007), but the Olympic title always eluded her. She did, however, win four Olympic medals (silver in 2000 and 2012, bronze in 2004 and 2008) – the joint most by an Argentinean athlete at the Games.
Last year saw the release of Lucha: Jugando con lo imposible (Lucha: Playing the impossible) – a documentary that charts Aymar’s glittering career, from her 1998 debut with Las Leonas – the women’s national team – to her retirement at the end of 2014. Speaking about the film, Aymar said: “I can’t believe all the achievements I managed and all the difficulties I had to face. It’s a very touching film. Beyond showing my sporting career, it can be seen by everyone because it’s a very motivating movie.”
Throughout her career, Aymar was often likened to Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, with her mesmerising skills on the pitch earning her the nickname “the Maradona of hockey”. But her ability to glide past opposition players with ease also drew regular comparisons to the country’s current football icon, Lionel Messi, who, like Aymar, was born in Rosario – a city of 1.2m people in central Argentina.
In December 2015, one year after her retirement, Rosario’s hockey stadium was renamed the Estadio Mundialista Luciana Aymar in recognition of Aymar’s incredible achievements. First opened in 2010, the stadium played host to some of Aymar’s finest moments, including Argentina’s 2010 World Cup and 2012 Champions Trophy victories, with Aymar being named best player at both tournaments.