New Delhi, June 21 (UNI): Hockey India (HI) on Monday named veteran striker Rani Rampal as the captain of the 16-member national women’s hockey team for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics to be held from July 23 to August 8.
Last week, India had announced a 16-member team for the Tokyo Games but refrained from naming the captain although it was more or less certain that Rani would lead the side.
According to a HI release, Rani was the obvious choice not just for her on-field exploits but also for her innate ability to guide the youngsters in the team.
“It is a huge honour to lead the Indian team at the Olympic Games. In these past years, my role as a captain was made easy with teammates who have shared the responsibilities as senior players,” Rani said in a statement issued by Hockey India.
Under Rani’s captaincy, the Indian team has achieved significant results over the last few years, including winning the Asia Cup in 2017, a silver medal at the Asian Games in 2018, silver at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy as well as winning the FIH Series Final in 2019.
The team led by Rani also made it to the quarterfinals of the FIH Women’s World Cup 2018 in London for the first time. She was the cynosure of India’s performance during the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in Bhubaneswar where her goal put the team ahead by 6-5 against USA to secure the qualification.
Meanwhile, defender Deep Grace Ekka and experienced goalkeeper Savita were named as two vice-captains of the women’s team.
Both the players have been in the Indian core group for nearly a decade and have been an integral part of the leadership group. They also played a key role in India’s feats which saw them attain career best ranking of World No 9 in 2018 following a strong performance at the FIH Women’s World Cup.
“I congratulate Rani on being named captain of the Indian women’s hockey team for the Olympic Game,” chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said.
“I also congratulate Deep Grace Ekka and Savita. All these three players have been part of the leadership group for a long time and have proven their abilities with this added responsibility and have guided many youngsters in the core group,” he added.
The coach also justified the logic behind having two vice-captains in the side.
“Having two vice-captains will also strengthen the core leadership group for the future. Their experience and role will be of importance as we aim to achieve good results in Tokyo,” said Marijne.
“It has been a long journey for the team and we continue into a tough challenge at the Olympics. The team needs to be mentally strong and I am confident with these three players at the helm, they are headed in the right direction,” he added.