Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal has been announced as one of the candidates to win the title of ‘Athlete of the Year 2019’ by the International World Games Association (IWGA).
She will be competing for the honour with 25 other athletes from various sports who have been recommended by their respective international federations, with the FIH deciding on Rani Rampal as their representative, the only Indian to be nominated this year.
The other nominees include the likes of the Brazilian beach handball team, sport climber Janja Garnbret of Slovenia and Colombian archer Sara Lopez among others.
The Indian team enjoyed a terrific 2019, and the skipper was at the centre of many of the inspiring performances which culminated in their qualification for Tokyo 2020, albeit after a major scare.
Going into the second leg of their qualifier against the USA eves with a four-goal lead, India almost saw the end of the tunnel in an action-packed first 35 minutes which saw their opponents swat away their advantage.
However, the 25-year-old regrouped her troops at the break and asked them to simply stick to their game plan. That bore results as the team did not concede any goals in the second-half and fittingly, it was Rani Rampal who prodded home the decisive goal which enabled the team to book their tickets to Japan.
The initiative recognises or honours an athlete or team for their outstanding performance or for their social commitment or particularly fair play during a calendar year.
Russians gymnast pair, Marina Chernova and Georgii Pataraia were adjudged the IWGA Athletes of the Year in 2018, winning the title by 159, 348 votes ahead of American powerlifter Jennifer Thompson.
The IWGA organises the World Games once every four years with the first one being held in 1981 in Santa Clara, USA. The next edition will be hosted by Birmingham, USA next year.