Alyson Annan (centre) and Carole Thate with six-week-old Sam on the couch in their living room.
A son crowns union of Hockeyroo champ and former Dutch captain, as Liz Hannan reports.
First they played against each other, then they fell in love. Now two of the world's greatest women hockey players have had a baby together.
That's the story of Australian Olympian Alyson Annan and her partner, former Olympic rival Carole Thate.
Annan is widely regarded as the greatest female hockey player of all time, but the latest chapter of her remarkable career is giving birth to a baby son, an event that seals her relationship with the former Dutch captain.
Sam Henk Brian Thate was born six weeks ago in the Netherlands, where the retired hockey greats have lived since a friendship, built at the 2000 Games, led to their marriage.
Annan conceived the baby using the donated sperm of a friend.
"One of the great gifts of life is being able to have a baby, but a greater gift is having someone help you," she said. "We have been blessed twice."
Annan played 228 internationals for Australia, while Thate played 168 for the Dutch, leading the side for four years. Annan won gold at two Olympics, Atlanta (1996) and Sydney, consigning Thate and the Dutch to bronze each time.
On the night the Hockeyroos celebrated gold in Sydney, Annan and her husband of two years, former Argentine player Max Caldas, separated after an unhappy year.
Months later, Annan's friendship with Thate blossomed into love after she moved to the Netherlands to play hockey. In September 2005, the couple were married, sharing a common hope: that they would have a family.
"I had wanted to have a baby for a long time. But having a family is different for us; we had to plan it," Annan said from her Amstelveen home.
They needed a donor and chose a friend who would have little role in their son's life.
"Sam does not have a father; he has someone who helped bring him into the world," Annan said. "After Sam was born, he (the donor) stopped by the hospital, held him for a minute or two, said he was proud of us and then left us. He has his own family. He is happy with what he has got."
Thate is finalising the legal adoption of their son, who will grow up with a "Mama" and "Mami".
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