Rani Rampal by no means anticipated the Khel Ratna to be bestowed on a girl hockey participant and that’s one purpose why she couldn’t maintain again tears on being named for it this yr, calling the nation’s highest sporting honour a testomony to her laborious work and sacrifices.
In an unprecedented transfer, the Sports activities Ministry named 5 athletes – cricketer Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, desk tennis participant Manika Batra, Rani and Paralympian Thangavelu Mariyappan – for this yr’s Khel Ratna.
Rani, 25, stated she couldn’t cease herself from crying when she first received to know of being one among the many chosen 5, leaving her dad and mom fairly fearful as a result of they, apparently, had no concept concerning the magnitude of the award and why it made their daughter so emotional.
“Actually, being a girl hockey participant, I used to be not anticipating that I will likely be awarded the Khel Ratna. Once I discovered concerning the announcement, I used to be extraordinarily emotional and couldn’t maintain again my tears,” she advised PTI in an interview.
“I referred to as my father first to present him the excellent news. Since I used to be crying on the decision, he was fearful if every little thing was OK with me. My dad and mom didn’t actually know the way vital it was to obtain this honour and once I defined it to them, my father notably was very completely satisfied and received emotional.”
Rani is a spectacular rags-to-riches story in Indian sport. The daughter of a cart-puller from that cradle of Indian hockey, Shahbad (Haryana), she rose to prominence as a 15-year-old when she turned the youngest participant to make the nationwide workforce. Her subsequent goal is the Olympic medal that has eluded Indian hockey for many years now.
“Whereas I do really feel this award comes as a recognition of my laborious work, sacrifices and dedication to the game over time, successful the Olympic medal will stay the last word objective. We’ll work laborious as a workforce to attain this objective in Tokyo subsequent yr,” Rani stated.
The Video games have been delayed by a yr because of the Covid-19 pandemic and Rani devoted her award to the medical doctors and different frontline staff, who’re combating to avoid wasting lives from the dreaded an infection.
“I dedicate this award to the Corona Warriors who’ve put their lives within the frontline to avoid wasting lives. I additionally dedicate this award to my workforce, this can be a recognition of their laborious work and success too,” she stated.
Rani stated the Khel Ratna recognition will inspire her and her teammates to attain larger laurels for the nation in future.
“It (the Khel Ratna) is extraordinarily encouraging and an enormous enhance to do nicely on the Olympic Video games. Over the previous years, I’m very completely satisfied that the Indian girls’s workforce is getting their due recognition and this has solely motivated us to do higher and higher on the worldwide stage,” she stated.
Speaking about coronavirus-forced break, Rani stated not simply India, it should take a while for each hockey-playing nation to get the depth again amid the worldwide well being disaster. She stated the break helped the Indian workforce to refocus on its objectives.
“Although this has been a compelled break, now we have utilised this time nicely to refocus on our objectives, areas of enchancment and have deeply analysed our opponent groups,” she stated.
“Although it should take at the very least 3-Four months earlier than we return to the identical stage we had been in in the beginning of the yr, that is the case with so many groups world wide. We simply have to be affected person and keep persistent.”
There was scare on the Sports activities Authority of India’s South Centre in Bengaluru when six males’s workforce gamers, together with skipper Manpreet Singh examined constructive for Covid-19 after returning to the nationwide camp on August 4, however all of the members of the ladies’s squad returned detrimental.
Rani thanked the SAI officers for taking excellent care of them in these tough instances. “We’ve got simply begun very primary sports activities actions. It’s good to run on the pitch once more. I thank SAI for the best way they’ve taken care of us throughout quarantine and are making certain every single day that now we have a protected surroundings right here. We by no means felt any worry as we all know we will likely be taken care of nicely,” she stated.