Special to qualify for Rio, says Ritu Rani

DECCAN CHRONICLE | HARPREET KAUR LAMBA
Published Jul 7, 2015, 8:25 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 3:23 pm IST
Rampal was the star of India’s campaign at Belgium, striking in crucial games against Italy and Japan
Ritu Rani. (File Photograph)
 Ritu Rani. (File Photograph)
New DelhiFor a country with the richest Olympic history in hockey, it is ironic that its women’s team have never been able to make the cut at the biggest stage. The only time Indian girls took part in the Olympics was by invitation — in the 1980 Moscow Games that marked women’s hockey entry into the quadrennial event.
 
Thirty five years later, the Ritu-Rani-led squad are on the brink of Olympic qualification. India’s fifth-place finish in the recent World League semifinals in Belgium means they are almost guaranteed of a berth, and need only to wait on the final confirmation following the completion of the continental championships.
 
“It is a huge moment for us,” said star striker Rani Rampal in a chat. “Throughout our junior years, we have seen the men’s team play the Olympics and it seemed like a distant dream.
 
Now, finally we will be there as well and it is special. “Though it definitely means that we need to work very hard now as it is an added responsibility.”
 
Rampal was the star of India’s campaign at Belgium, striking in crucial games against Italy and Japan.  “I remember the night before the 5th-6th place game against Japan, we had a team meeting,” said the Haryana girl. 
 
“We knew the difference between getting a ticket to Rio and being at home watching the games on television, would just be this one game. “Losing was not an option and all of us decided that we would not return from the field defeated,” she added.
 
Rampal struck early in the game against Japan and the team managed to defend the lead to finish fifth. 
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