Indian hockey women’s team captain and ace striker Rani Rampal has been nominated by the sport’s governing body for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour in the country.
Instrumental in helping the national side qualify for the Tokyo Olympics - her deciding goal against the USA sealed it for the country - Rani Rampal’s leadership has also seen the Indian side climb to a career-best FIH World Ranking of No. 9.
The 25-year-old Haryana athlete has previously led the Indian eves to the 2017 Asia Cup title and a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
“I am overwhelmed that Hockey India has recommended my name for the top award and their continued support always encourages the team and I to do well," Rani Rampal said.
“I also feel that two players being nominated goes to show that women's hockey is moving in the right direction and this will only motivate us to do better on the world stage,” Rani Rampal added.
Chirag, Satwik in the spotlight
Meanwhile, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has recommended the names of the nation’s emerging men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy for the Arjuna Award.
The young and dynamic duo turned heads last year by clinching the Thailand Open following their silver medal feat at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
“Their consistency and fearlessness against the most accomplished pairs propelled them into the world’s top 10 and have pushed them within inches of securing their first Olympic berth for next year’s Tokyo Games,” BAI said in a statement.
Apart from them, Sameer Verma has also been chosen for the Arjuna Award after his consistent show over the last few years, where the shuttler rose to a career-high ranking of 11 in 2018 and won three titles.
Jyothi Surekha gets recognition
Ace Indian archer V Jyothi Surekha’s name has been recommended by the government of Andhra Pradesh for the Khel Ratna Award as well.
The 24-year-old archer has been competing at the highest level for almost a decade now. The Vijaywada athlete has won as many as 33 international medals so far, which include nine gold, 13 silver and 11 bronze medals.
The compound archer won Indian women’s first-ever individual medal in the 2019 World championship. Her pet remains a non-Olympic event though.