Today, Saturday, the Indian Hockey Organization congratulated veteran striker Rani for completing 250 international matches. She achieved this amazing feat during the India vs Belgium match at the FIH Hockey Pro League meet in Antwerp, Belgium.
Rani, who was injured long after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is back in the reckoning with her first appearance in over ten months with Team India.
The emotional Rani, who was honored by India Women’s Team President Yaniki Chopman before the match, said, “It has been a very difficult year for me in dealing with a prolonged injury but the only thing that kept me going was the desire to wear the India jersey again.”
“I have worked hard for this moment and I am very grateful to Hockey India and the Indian Sports Authority for their continued support and allowing me to work with the best psychiatrist during my rehabilitation process. I am also very grateful to the entire coaching staff and to my teammates who have consistently motivated and supported me over the past year.”
“This is a very special moment for me. I consider this a second round in my career and it is doubly special to be back in my 250th game for his country against a strong opponent like Belgium. It is truly a milestone to remember,” added Rani.
In a career spanning more than 12 years, Rani led the Indian team to many successes including a historic fourth place at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. She made her international debut in the 2009 Champions Challenge at the age of 15, becoming the youngest player to represent the national team.
From Shahabad Markanda in Haryana, she became the first Indian female hockey player to be nominated for the FIH Young Player of the Year award.
She was also awarded the ‘Best Young Player of the Tournament’ award at the 2010 Women’s Hockey World Cup in Argentina. Under her leadership, India made history as they won the Asian Women’s Cup in 2017 after 13 long years. Under her captain, the team qualified for the quarter-finals of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup in London 2018 and also won the silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
Rani has also been honored with the Arjuna Award in 2016, World Athletics Award 2019, Indian Hockey Player of the Year 2019, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2020 and Padma Shri Award 2020. She also led the team to victory in the 2019 FIH Series Finals and was a catalyst In securing successive Olympic Games success, the Indian team performed in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in front of the home crowd in Bhubaneswar as they beat the USA.
Congratulating Rani, Head Coach Yannkei Schopman said: “Rani’s incredible journey from extremely difficult economic conditions in Shahabad to becoming one of the most successful hockey players of her era has inspired many young players in India. She has worked hard over the past year to get her jersey back in India. After a long break due to injury, she is a very determined player and works hard and I wish her all the best and also congratulate her on achieving this great achievement.”
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