Games & medals
Rio de Janeiro 2016 2016
Rani RAMPAL biography
A clinical forward capable of doubling up as a midfielder when required, Indian hockey superstar Rani Rampal is considered one of the best women hockey players in the world and has a knack for scoring crucial goals, like her decisive strike which helped India qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
The captain of the Indian hockey women’s team was also a part of the squad that represented India in Rio 2016, the first time the eves had qualified for the Games in 36 years.
Her international debut came eight years prior to the Rio 2016 appearance when, as a 14-year-old at the Olympic qualifiers, she became the youngest hockey player India had ever fielded.
Such was the promise she offered that the teenager made her World Cup debut in 2010 - the youngest to do so for India aged 15 - and accounted for five of the seven goals her team scored in the competition.
And to think a few years prior, she was growing amid the shackles of poverty in Shahbad, a village nestled in the state of Haryana where her father earned a livelihood as a cart-puller.
After pleading to her orthodox parents to let her play hockey, Rani, who idolized the legendary Dhanraj Pillay growing up, began training at a local academy aged six. Once she made it to the national side, it all started paying off.
“I hate living with regret,” says the Arjuna and Padma Shri awardee. “I believe in discipline and routines. I believe in hard work because even if I don't reach my goal, I can look at myself in the mirror and say I gave it my all.”
She was adjudged ‘Young Player of the Tournament’ after emerging as the highest scorer in FIH Women’s Champions Challenge II in 2009 and then was a part of the team that bagged a silver medal at the 2009 Asia Cup.
The striker was named ‘Young Player of the Tournament’ at the 2010 World Cup and at the 2013 Junior World Cup, and then helped the team clinch a bronze at the 2014 Asian Games before she broke out of her teens.
At Rio 2016, where the Indian women's team made a long overdue return to the Olympic arena, Rani immediately announced herself by scoring twice in the opening match against Japan.
Rampal played in all five of India's group games at the Olympics and her growing influence saw her named captain of the national team soon after their return from Rio 2016.
Under her leadership, the team earned a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games, reached the quarter-final at the 2018 World Cup and finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games in the same year.
She was in inspired form in the year 2019 as well, guiding her team to the Tokyo Games after a major scare that needed her intervention in the form of a decisive goal in the second half of the second leg of India’s Olympic qualifier against the United States.