Home » Hockey News » Exclusive: ‘Felt Like we Returned With a Medal’ – Rani Rampal on Reception Given to Women’s Hockey Team After Tokyo Olympics

Exclusive: ‘Felt Like we Returned With a Medal’ – Rani Rampal on Reception Given to Women’s Hockey Team After Tokyo Olympics

India women hockey captain Rani Rampal is mighty pleased to have witnessed the support her team was shown during the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics where they finished a historic fourth. India lost to Great Britain in the bronze medal clash but the fourth-place finish is the best ever in their history at the Games.

“In my career, I’ve never seen anyone getting up at 7 in the morning to watch a women’s hockey match. That’s a big change. People have started watching. The love, respect, and honour we’ve gotten upon returning feels like we’ve won a medal,” Rani told CNN-News18 during an exclusive interaction.

India defeated Australia 1-0 to enter a historic first ever semi-final in what was their third ever appearance at an Olympics. This after they started the event with a hat-trick of defeats before a turnaround saw them making the last-eight from their pool.

When asked what she told her teammates ahead of the semifinal clash against Argentina, Rani said, “(I told them) It’s already a big achievement that we’re playing in the semi-finals of an Olympics. We have nothing to lose but everything to win. If we win we will be playing in the final but let’s not think about that; just keep the focus on your job on the field. Give your 100 per cent. I’m happy we gave our best. But it was not our day.”

The performance was a massive improvement when compared to the Rio Olympics where the team finished last having not won a single game during their forgettable campaign.

Rani says the support from the government and sports authorities has been the major reason for their turnaround. “Definitely there’s been a change. It seemed that the money and (good) infrastructure is in cricket only and not for other sports. But as far as this Olympic journey is concerned, the government has fully supported us. Even at the SAI centers, we were always asked about our requirements so that our focus would just be on playing,” she said.

However, Rani says that if India harbours the dream to become a sports powerhouse, the government alone cannot be responsible and the general population will have to support the players as well.

“If we are to make ourselves a sporting nation, the government alone cannot be responsible. We all have to contribute. We need support from everyone. Others get inspired when they see players being cheered and celebrated. When we were kids, we used to see the pictures of the athletes on newspapers and thought if this would be us some day,” Rani said.

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