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Improved fitness to aid hockey team’s push 2020 Olympics berth, says Rani Rampal

Mahima Katariya

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Rani Rampal
Rani Rampal is bullish about India's chances in the Olympic qualifiers. @RaniRampal

New Delhi: Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal believes that fitness plays an important role in any sport, and they have really worked hard on their fitness which will definitely help them to earn a berth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“Fitness is a mantra to success. Our strength and capabilities have really developed as we have worked a lot on our fitness. Our graph has raised towards success in last two to three years.

“Everything needs improvement and development. So I believe that the next thing which needs improvement is decision making. We have to learn that how the decisions should be taken on the field and off field,” Rani told Sports Lounge.

Rani first came into notice when she played in the Champion’s Challenge Tournament in June 2009 held in Kazan, Russia. She became the top goal scorer and the young player of the tournament. She is also the youngest player to be nominated for the FIH Women’s Young Player of the Year Award 2010.

She was part of the Indian team the claimed silver in the Asia Cup 2009 for the Indian team and represented India at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

When asked about her motivation, she said, “There are so many former players who motivates me, such as Surinder Kaur, Suman Bala. They have played for almost 10 to 12 years for the country.

“Currently, I’m following Mary Kom. She inspires me a lot as she is a mother of four children and still a World Champion,” the 25-year-old said.

Mary has remained the face of women’s boxing in the country for almost two decades and has collected numerous awards including Padma Bhushan.

In 2016, Rani was awarded with Arjuna Award and later in 2018 Asian Games, she became the captain of the women’s hockey team where Indian bagged silver.

Rani believes that the team has improved under her captaincy. “I think, earlier also the team was playing well but we have really improved in last two years. But it’s a team effort. A captain can’t win a match alone. If the team won’t make an effort, the result will not come and we can’t win. We all are captains and we play as a team,” said the captain.

To participate in Olympics, India will have to face US in the Olympic qualifies held on November 1 and 2 in Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneshwar.

“First of all our focus is on the next Olympic qualifier held in Bhubaneshwar, on 1st and 2nd November. We have to give our best in that because if we will qualify in this then only we can play in Olympics and perform well,” said Rani.

According to Rani, women are doing better than men in sports. “Government has played a major role in improving women’s sports and indulging women in sports. Girls are getting more opportunities, parents are also believing in girls a lot. They are accepting their daughters as a sportswomen. And I personally think that women’s sports is doing much better than the men’s sports,” she stated.

Coming from a family where girls were not allowed to play any sport, Rani’s journey has not been smooth. “My journey was tough as I belong to a state where girls were not allowed to play. I also persuaded my parents. I belong to a very poor family. It was very tough for me to continue my sport,” she said.

“But there are many people who helped me a lot and I am here. So yeah I have really struggled and did hard work.”

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