Born in 1994, Rani made her senior international debut in 2009 when she was only 14 years old, making her the youngest-ever player in the Indian Women's Hockey team. Since then she has represented India on more than 240 occasions, scoring a remarkable 118 goals.
Rani is loved all over India and in the Hockey world. Her campaign to become The World Games Athlete of the Year was supported in Twitter by, amongst others, the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs of India Mr Kiren Rijiju, Youth Olympic Games champion in shooting Manu Baker, and a very popular Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik.
Rani was born on 4th December 1994 in the Kurukshetra district of Haryana, India. Her father worked as a cart-puller. She was registered in the town's team by the age of 6. She took to field Hockey in 2003, and first she came to Junior Nationals but was later admitted into the national squad. As she started to play professionally, GoSports Foundation, a sports non-governmental organisation, provided her with monetary and non-monetary support as her family found it hard to support her dreams financially. She was part of the Indian Hockey Team when the team qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games for the first time in 36 years.
In 2019 Rani successfully led the Indian Women’s Hockey team to Olympic qualification, beating Team USA 6-5 on aggregate over the 2-game Olympic Qualifier, staged in front of 12,000 fans in Bhubaneswar, India. She scored the winning goal with just 12 minutes remaining in the final quarter of the second match, sending the home crowd wild with celebrations.
During 2019, Rani’s team won the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima where she was named Player of the Tournament, and they have now qualified for just the 3rd Olympic Games in their history, having finished 12th and last in Rio in 2016.
As an inspirational leader on and off the field, Rani is a role model in India and hopes to lead the team to success in next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games. The team’s good run has brought it several accolades, awards and recognition in the past year. Rani sees this as a new era for women’s Hockey in the country.
The fact that people never expected any great result from the Indian women’s team always bothered us. No one expected us to win, just a participation would bring satisfaction. But now I see that attitude change towards the Indian women’s hockey team
Rani is currently playing matches in New Zealand. She promoted the poll in social media and was thrilled to win the title:
I dedicate this award to the entire hockey fraternity, my team and my country. This success has only become possible with the love and support from hockey lovers, fans, my team, Coaches, Hockey India, my government, friends from Bollywood, fellow sportspersons and my countrymen who have continuously voted for me. Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to the World Games Federation for this recognition.
In January 2020, the Government of India honoured her with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India. And shortly after, her fans voted her The World Games Athlete of the Year. What a month! Later this year, the world will have the opportunity to follow Rani playing in the Olympic Games. Further, the International Hockey Federation has announced that they are aiming to present Hockey 5s as a demonstration sport in The World Games 2021. Who knows, we might get to meet Rani in Birmingham in person?
Rani will get an Athlete of the Year trophy and a branded gift from the Official Sponsor, Protective Life.
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The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 15-25 July 2021. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in the Games.