Indian women’s hockey legend Rani Rampal has claimed that there are many unfit players in the team picked for the Asian Games, and asserted that she is in no mood to retire.
As per the provisional squad issued by Hockey India, Rampal is not part of the Hangzhou-bound team despite making a strong comeback from a hamstring injury after the Tokyo Olympics, where the Indian women recorded their best-ever performance by finishing fourth under her leadership.
On return, Rampal emerged as the top-scorer in the last National Games in Gujarat, scoring 18 goals in Haryana’s triumphant campaign.
Despite the snub, Rampal doesn’t have any regrets and said the sport has given her everything in life.
“I am in that stage of life where I don’t have to prove anything. I have achieved almost everything in life through hockey but still I felt the National Games was a chance for me to make a comeback.
“I tried and it happened, I played in the National Games, became the top-scorer but still I was not considered. So there was no performance issue,” Rampal told PTI in an exclusive interview.
“I had performance, fitness, everything, but somewhere, someone was not secured with me, be it players or coaches. There might be some jealousy. But I believe in doing my work.
“I know I am not there in the Asian Games team, there are plenty of players in the squad who are unfit, and I don’t want to take their names but still they are going for the Asian Games. Fine, it’s the coach’s choice, but hockey gave me a lot in life,” she added.
Recollecting her journey after the Tokyo Olympics high, Rampal said it was the toughest time of her career.
“The journey after Olympics was really difficult for me. I think it was the toughest time of my career. I have seen a lot of pain and difficulties. I have also learned a lot off the field about people, about life.
“I used to just hear that in difficult times there is no one with you but I have personally faced the situation.
“I was just determined to get back fit and break into the national team. I worked a lot on regaining my fitness, sometimes alone. I came back after regaining my fitness, but I didn’t get any chance since the last two years,” she bemoaned.
The 28-year-old centre-forward from Shahbad in Haryana, however, doesn’t want to quit playing as she aspires to give back to the game both as a player and mentor.
“From childhood my attitude was to never give up. I believe a lot in karma. Your job is to do your work, results depend on God. If you do that you won’t have any regret. I don’t want to keep any regret in life. That was my motivation to keep working,” she said.
“I am right now working with sub-junior girls and I will try my best to give them what I have learnt in my early days. Side by side I will continue to work on my game, and whenever I get a chance, I will play again.” The poster girl of Indian women’s hockey hopes to see the team on the podium at the Olympics.
“Stay positive, that is my mantra, I just try to stay positive always. I am trying hard and I proved myself, selection is not in my hands. I can only work, which I have been doing for the last two years,” she said.
“I have no regrets in life, I have achieved everything but an Olympic medal is something that is missing from my cupboard. I play or not, it doesn’t matter, but I want the Indian women’s hockey team on the Olympics podium one day.
“I was preparing for Commonwealth Games, I was ready for Asian Games also but was not selected,” Rampal said.
The former India captain was bestowed with the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award in 2020 and also received the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth highest civilian award, in the same year.
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