I dedicate this award to the Corona Warriors: Rani Rampal on winning the Khel Ratna

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Rani Rampal
Image Courtesy: TOI/Hockey India
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Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal’s name is now etched in the history books for being the first female hockey player from the country to be bestowed with the distinguished Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, and she has dedicated the honour to the relentless ‘Corona Warriors’ battling it out against the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

Rani Rampal
Image Courtesy: TOI/Hockey India

Rani Rampal was named among the five sportspersons selected to be awarded the Khel Ratna this year, alongside cricketer Rohit Sharma, table tennis player Manika Batra, wrestler Vinesh Phogat and Paralympic high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu.

Set in motion from 1991, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is the highest sporting honour of the, named after the former Prime Minister Rajib Gandhi. Becoming the first female hockey player of India to be honoured with the priceless title, Rani said she couldn’t hold back her tears.

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Winning Khel Ratna was an emotional moment for Hockey captain Rani Rampal and her family

“Honestly, being a woman hockey player, I was not expecting that I will be awarded the Khel Ratna,” Rani said in an interview with PTI.

When I found out about the announcement, I was extremely emotional and could not hold back my tears,” the skipper, who earlier this year was honoured with the Padma Shri, added.

Coming from a poor background to achieving the Khel Ratna, Rani’s parents were unaware of the award’s value. So when she explained it to her father, who is a cart-puller, it was an emotional and proud moment for the family.

“I called my father first to give him the good news. Since I was crying on the call, he was worried if everything was OK with me,” the prolific forward went on,My parents didn’t really know how significant it was to receive this honour and when I explained it to them, my father particularly was very happy and got emotional.”

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Hailing from the town of Shahbad, Haryana which has gifted numerous hockey legends to the country, Rani became the youngest hockey player to be selected for India in 2009, when she was just 15. She has made 226 international appearances, and scored 112 times.

The 2018 Asian Games silver medallist however, has her sight set for a medal next year at the Tokyo Olympic Games: “Winning the Olympic medal will remain the ultimate goal. We will work hard as a team to achieve this goal in Tokyo next year.”

At the end, Rani dedicated her Khel Ratna to the Corona Warriors of the country, who are on the frontline, tackling the COVID-19 crisis, and also to her teammates.

“I dedicate this award to the Corona Warriors who have put their lives in the frontline to save lives. I also dedicate this award to my team, this is a recognition of their hard work and success too,” the 25 year old concluded.

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