Rani Rampal to lead Indian women's hockey team in Tokyo Olympics

Rani is the obvious choice not just for her on-field exploits but also for her innate ability to guide the youngsters in the team.

Rani Rampal is the obvious choice not just for her on-field exploits but also for her innate ability to guide the youngsters in the team.   -  FIH

Hockey India named veteran striker Rani Rampal as the captain of the 16-member Olympic-bound Indian women's hockey team on Monday.

Rani is the obvious choice not just for her on-field exploits but also for her innate ability to guide the youngsters in the team.

Under Rani's captaincy over the past few years, India has achieved significant results including winning the Asia Cup in 2017, winning silver at the Asian Games 2018, silver at Asian Champions Trophy 2018 as well as winning the FIH Series final in 2019.

The team led by Rani also made it to the quarterfinals of the FIH Women's World Cup 2018 in London for the first time. She was the cynosure of India's performance during the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in Bhubaneswar where her goal put the team ahead by 6-5 against USA to secure the qualification.

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Dependable defender Deep Grace Ekka and experienced goalkeeper Savita have been named the two vice-captains of the side. Both the players have been in the Indian core group for nearly a decade. They also played a key role in India's feats which saw them attain career best ranking of World No. 9 in 2018 following a strong performance at the FIH Women's World Cup.

Women's team chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said, "All these three players have been part of the leadership group for a long time and have proven their abilities with this added responsibility and have guided many youngsters in the core group. Having two vice-captains will also strengthen the core leadership group for the future. Their experience and role will be of importance as we aim to achieve good results in Tokyo."

Expressing her gratitude on being named captain, Rani said, "It is a huge honour to lead the Indian team at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. In these past years my role as a captain was made easy with team-mates who have shared the responsibilities as senior players. I look forward to this added responsibility."

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Vice-captain Ekka too stated that this new responsibility will motivate her to ensure the team does well in Tokyo. "To lead India as vice-captain at the Olympics is a huge honour and it will surely motivate me further to do well for the team."

Savita also expressed her joy and excitement ahead of the big event. "I thank the team's support staff and Hockey India for giving me this responsibility. We are all eagerly awaiting to do well at the Olympics in Tokyo, and it will be great to lead India to good wins."

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