Rani Rampal, 25, is the first Indian hockey player to win the World Games Athlete of The Year 2019 title. Born in Shahabad Markanda in Haryana’s Kurukshetra, the Indian women’s hockey captain since 2016 has been 240 international caps. Back from a series in New Zealand, the forward is hard at work for her MA exam in English literature. She spoke to Soumitra Bose. Excerpts—
Finding time to study: It’s a challenge. I deliberately chose English. I am not great in English, but I am giving my best shot.
On international media: International media is useless unlike our media that shows a lot of interest in hockey. Sport is not only about a Sachin or Virat. There is a lot happening beyond cricket.
Getting 200,000 votes from worldwide fans for the award: It’s not about what I did in 2019 (Indian women qualified for the Olympics only for the third time), this award is a reward for my dedication to hockey for the past 17-18 years.
The award means: For the first time, women’s hockey has been recognised by a sports fraternity that had contenders from a record 25 disciplines. I am happy to represent Indian hockey.
What’s next: A podium-finish in Tokyo, of course. Bangladesh winning the Under-19 Cricket World Cup by beating fancied India is an indication of what can happen on a given day. There will be no favourites in Japan and every team will believe it can win a medal.