Rani Rampal recounts rise to stardom after Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna

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For Rani Rampal, the primary lady hockey participant to get the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India’s very best sports activities honour, it’s been a exceptional adventure.

From dwelling in a shanty to gifting her folks a double-storey area; from having to pass by way of the placement of stars to get up for early morning coaching to having a high-end Apple watch and digital devices; from being expelled from her first junior nationwide camp for deficient health to turning into India staff captain, it’s been a rollercoaster journey for the daughter of a cart-puller from Shahbad, Haryana.

Rani’s existence revolves round hockey and in a 12-year India occupation she has emerged the face of Indian ladies’s hockey, which has certified for the Tokyo Olympics.

“The moment I came to know I have been recommended for the Khel Ratna, I called my father. I got emotional and my voice choked and he was confused whether something bad has happened to me. He asked me, if I am going to get the country’s highest sports honour why was I crying,” says Rani, 25.

“It (Khel Ratna) was something I desperately wanted and that’s why I applied. But when the announcement was made, I couldn’t believe. It’s a dream come true, and that’s why I got carried away and started crying while talking to my father. He has seen the worst in life and really worked hard to make ends meet for our family.”

Only male hockey stars Dhanraj Pillay and Sardar Singh have won Khel Ratna. Rani is without doubt one of the 5 selected this 12 months – Rohit Sharma (cricket), Vinesh Phogat (wrestling), Mariyappan Thangavelu (para athletics) and Manika Batra (desk tennis) are the others.

“My hockey journey is nothing less than a fairytale. When I was thrown out of the junior camp (2007), the coach told me in front of all the campers that I can’t ever play for India,” recollects Rani, now a veteran of 241 internationals and 134 objectives.

“At that time we had limited resources, so my diet was very simple…I was under-nourished. I was just 36 kg. But I took my unceremonious exit from the camp as a blessing in disguise. After that I worked really hard and with the support of our coach at Shahbad centre, Baldev sir, never looked back. I was even named in Asia XI and World XI.”

Rani led India to silver within the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games and her last-minute objective towards USA within the Olympic qualifiers held in Bhubaneswar final 12 months helped the staff qualify. She was once additionally within the Rio Olympics staff.

“With the Khel Ratna, I have got all the sporting awards – Arjuna and Haryana’s Bhim award. One thing still missing is an Olympic medal. The way the women team is shaping up, a podium finish in Tokyo is within our reach,” says Rani, who’s recently with the nationwide camp on the Sports Authority of India centre in Bengaluru.

Six contributors of the Indian males’s hockey staff, additionally primarily based in Bengaluru, examined certain for Covid-19. “There is no fear among the women campers and everyone is taking required precautions and maintaining social distancing while working out. The only difference compared to earlier camps is we are training in two groups of 12 players each. Everyone continued with their fitness routine even while we were at home. We’re playing hockey after almost four-and-half months, so it will take some time to catch up with our old regimen.”

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