The Indian women’s hockey team, which defeated a higher-ranked Australia to guarantee its first Olympic semifinal berth, won millions of hearts with its cohesion under duress on Sunday in Tokyo. Rani Rampal, the team’s energetic captain, motivated the girls with her capable leadership while coach Sjoerd Marijne directed the team tactically.
In her 13-year international career, 26-year-old Rani, who made her India debut at the age of 14 in an Olympic qualifier in Kazan, Russia, in 2008, has overcome her humble beginnings to become a legendary figure in Indian hockey. It was never simple for Rani to take up hockey because of her family’s financial restrictions, even though she was from Shahabad Markanda in Haryana, one of the nation’s well-known hockey breeding grounds. The family struggled to make ends meet because her father was a cart-puller.
She managed to persuade her parents to enrol her as a seven-year-old in the Shahabad Hockey Academy, supervised by renowned coach and strict taskmaster Baldev Singh. Rani worked hard to polish her abilities and quickly advanced to play for the senior India team as a teen.
Rani had the dual job of playing for the country and supporting her family, including constructing a pucca house, even as she lived her love and quickly rose to become one of the best forwards. She was motivated by a letter of encouragement from former women’s team coach and 1980 Olympic gold medalist MK Kaushik.
She frequently struggled on the field to find assistance, but she never gave up accepting responsibility upfront. She competed in all major tournaments, winning a gold medal at the 2017 Asia Cup and a silver at the 2018 Asian Games. She has played in two World Cups and as many Olympics. She was named the 2010 World Cup’s top young player.
Rani’s ability to score goals under duress is a notable part of her game. The most precise illustration of this was her game-winning goal in the Olympic qualifying match against the US in Bhubaneswar in 2019, which secured the nation’s spot in the Tokyo Games.
Rani, who has the most caps for the Indian team and wears a pendant with two hockey sticks and a ball, is a role model.
She has already aided the team’s cause at the Olympics in Tokyo, and she is eager to win even greater honour. Rani can continue to serve the nation honourably for a few more years because of her advanced age.
One of her role models is the six-time World Champion and Indian boxing superstar Mary Kom.”I follow Mary Kom very closely, because she is an icon, a six-time world champion, a mother of three, and yet she has the same hunger to learn,” Femina.in quoted Rani as saying.
She also enjoys listening to Bollywood oldies to unwind after exhausting sessions or tours and is also a passionate fan of Punjabi music. “I don’t get much free time, but I love listening to music. I enjoy Punjabi music, old Bollywood melodies, and music from the ’80s and ’90s. Other than that, I like to spend time with my family whenever I have the time to be with them,” she added.