Rani Rampal's, the captain of the Indian women's hockey team's desire to not give up until the final minute of every game she has played for the country, may stem from her childhood in a poor family that couldn't afford even two square meals a day. To meet her nutritional needs, she had to consume milk diluted with large amounts of water.
On Monday, India Rani led the team to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics, defeating world No. 2 Australia by a lone goal, the team's greatest result at the quadrennial showpiece ever.
Here are six interesting facts about Rani Rampal.
- Rani Rampal began playing hockey at the Shahbad Hockey Academy in Haryana when she was six years old, and she was the youngest player there. Baldev Singh, a Dronacharya Award winner, was her coach.
- Rani Rampal scored four goals in the finals of the Champion's Challenge Tournament in 2009. She was named the tournament's 'Top Goal Scorer' and 'Young Player of the Tournament.'
- The athlete made history in 2010 when she competed in the 2010 World Cup India at the age of 15. She was the tournament's youngest player, scoring seven goals. India finished 9th in the World Women's Hockey Rankings in that year, its highest standing since 1978.
- At the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, Rani competed for India where the Indian team finished fourth. Following her outstanding performance, she was named to the FIH Women's All-Star Team in 2010 and was nominated for the 'Young Woman Player of the Year award. She was also named to the Asian Hockey Federation's All-Star team in 2010.
- Rani led India to its first-ever bronze medal in the Junior World Cup in 2013. She went on to become the captain of the Indian women's hockey team at the Asian Games in 2018. India finished second in the event with a silver medal.
- Under Rani Rampal's captaincy, the Indian women's hockey team has qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo for the third time.