India women hockey team captain Rani Rampal is over the moon after being nominated for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award by Hockey India on Tuesday.Also Read - India at Tokyo Olympics 2021 Highlights, Day 11: Kamalpreet Kaur Finishes 6th; Women's Hockey Team Makes Historic Semis on Memorable Monday
The period of consideration for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is between January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019. Also Read - Through Pain & Poverty, Hockey Captain Rani Rampal Kept Dreaming of Donning India Colours
During this phase, India recorded victories in the Women’s Asia Cup in 2017, clinched silver at the 2018 Asian Games under Rani. She also played a vital role at the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in 2019 by scoring the decider ensuring India’s second straight Olympic qualification . Also Read - "Biggest Moment For Indian Hockey": Proud Rani Rampal Reacts After Reaching Tokyo Olympics Semifinals
Additionally, the team also climbed up to a career-best FIH World Ranking of No.9.
“I feel very honoured for being nominated for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award,” Rani said. “I am overwhelmed that Hockey India has recommended my name for the top award and their continued support always encourages the team and me to do well.”
Rani felt qualifying for the Rio Olympics was the turning point for the team as it inspired them to take their game up several notches. “I personally feel the Rio Olympic Games was a turning point for us. We were dismal in our performance and we knew we had to really work hard if we wanted to do well at the world stage or even at the Asian level. Having that singular focus in mind, we started working towards being known as a tough team, a winning team and not as the underdogs,” she said.
She added, “Confidence played a huge role in our transformation. Having a brilliant support staff led by Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne who always encouraged us to ‘Speak Up and be Bold’ started showing in our game. A lot of credit for our success goes to the Support Staff who always backed us no matter what.”
Hi also announced the nomination of Vandana Katariya and Monika from the women’s hockey Team and Harmanpreet Singh from the Men’s team for the Arjuna Award.
“It is fantastic that we have two players from the Women’s Team being nominated for the Arjuna Award. I congratulate both Vandana and Monika, they are very deserving of this recognition. I also feel that two players being nominated goes to show that Women’s Hockey is moving in the right direction and this will only motivate us to do better on the world stage,” she said.