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Sam May of Loughborough Lightning.

Loughborough Lightning have revealed that Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) stalwart Sam May will retire from professional netball at the end of the 2021 season.

As the longest serving import player in the VNSL, May arrived on UK soil from her home country of Australia in 2013. May completed eight seasons in the VNSL for Saracens Mavericks and Wasps before making the switch to Loughborough Lightning in 2020.

The 33-year-old has been no stranger to success, making it to the Finals Weekend in every single year of her career. She has claimed two Superleague titles, two second-place finishes and a third-place medal.

May also has plenty of international netball experience  including four years with the NSW Swifts in the ANZ Championship, three years with Sydney Swifts in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy League and multiple Australian U21 caps.

Now, after 17 years, May has decided to hang up her dress at the close of the season and credits the support of her fellow teammates and coaches for her ability to compete at the top level for so many years:

“Since coming over to the UK seven and half years ago, I never thought I would have stayed this long,” she said.

“But it is credit to the people I have met through this amazing netball community and teams I have worked alongside that has made this experience unforgettable.”

May added: “I have made the decision to finish up this year as I feel now is the best time for me physically and mentally. I have been so fortunate to do the thing I absolutely love for so many years and I am really looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life.”

Loughborough Lightning have enjoyed a successful campaign so far in the 2021 VNSL season, finishing top of the league on Monday night at the close of the regular season.

Looking ahead to the finals weekend on 26 and 27 June, Head Coach Sara Francis-Bayman complimented May on her experience, level head and ability to lead the group in her vice-captain role.

“Sam has been incredible for Lightning over the last two seasons, both on and off the court,” she said. “She is the model professional, and her incredible career reflects her work ethic and willingness to give to the team. We’ll miss her but wish her a happy retirement and chance to succeed in other areas.”

May’s final outing with the side will take place this coming weekend when Lightning face Leeds Rhinos in a bid to secure a place in the Grand Final on Sunday.

Despite it being her final hurrah, May has a positive outlook on the clash: “I’m so excited for what this final week with bring regardless of the outcome. I am just so happy I get to do it with my amazing teammates by my side and my family and friends are able to be there as I complete my final game.”

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