“I dedicate this award to the entire hockey fraternity, my team and my country,” Indian women’s team captain  Rani Rampal said on Thursday after lifting the prestigious ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award as she became the first hockey player to win this honour.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rani Rampal became the first hockey player to win ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award.
  • The winner was named after 20 days of polling by sports fans all over the world.
  • “I dedicate this award to the entire hockey fraternity, my team and my country,” said Rani, who was recently named among the Padma Shri awardees.

The World Games winner was announced after 20 days of polling by sports fans worldwide. “Indian hockey superstar Rani is The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019! Huge congratulations!” the World Games said in a statement. “With an impressive number of votes, 199,477, Rani is the clear winner of the Athlete of the Year race, where sports fans all over the world have voted for their favourite during 20 days of polling in January. All in all, over 705,610 votes were cast during the poll,” it added.

“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,” said the  hockey forward.

Under her captaincy, India won silver at the 2018 Asian Games. It was her significant goal in 2015 that took the women’s team back to the Olympics after a long gap of 36 years. This is the second time Rani is leading the Indian team to the Olympics. This is only the third time – after 1980 and 2016 – the Indian women’s hockey team has qualified for the Olympics. Last year, India won the FIH Series Finals, and Rani was named Player of the Tournament. Recently, Rani’s was named among the Padma Shri awardees also. “Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to The World Games Federation for this recognition,” she added.

Also Read: Exclusive Interview: ‘I Want To Lead By Example,’ Says Hockey Captain Rani Rampal

“It is my privilege and honour to win this award. It is always nice when your country recognises your effort. It is even better when the international sports community recognises it. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me,” she said.

“2019 was a great year for our team because we qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. As a team we want to make 2020 a great year!”

READ: Why You Should Know Rani Rampal

Congratulating Rani on the success, the International Hockey Federation tweeted:

“Congratulations @imranirampal for becoming the first ever Hockey athlete to win the prestigious @TheWorldGames Athlete of the Year award!” the FIH, tweeted.

“On behalf of FIH and the global hockey community, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Rani for having been voted The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019. This is an acknowledgement of her outstanding performances – together with her team-mates – and her dedication to hockey and her leadership,” FIH CEO Thierry Weil said.

Rani and the Indian Women’s team are strong performers and we wish them good luck in their future endeavours!

Feature Image Credit: Rani Rampal / Instagram

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