Who is Vandana Katariya: Vandana Katariya became the first woman hockey player from India to score a hat-trick at Olympics. Katariya’s significant three goals helped India to secure a 4-3 over South Africa during Pool A match. The Rani Rampal-led team is now in the race to book a berth in the quarter-finals after their final group game at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. The Indian team’s quarter-finals hopes are still alive and it now depends on the outcome of the last Pool A match between Great Britain and Ireland (at 5:15 pm) later in the day. If Ireland loses or draws, the Indian team will reach its first-ever quarterfinal. If Ireland wins, it will go through.
If India makes it through, this will be the first time that we will be in the knockouts of the Olympics in women’s hockey. After appearing in the Olympics for the first time in 36 years at the Rio Games in 2016, the Indian women’s hockey team, for the first time in history, is taking part in their second consecutive Olympics.
History has been made. 🇮🇳
Vandana Katariya scores the first-ever hat-trick for the Indian Women's Hockey Team in the Olympics. 💙#INDvRSA #IndiaKaGame #TeamIndia #Tokyo2020 #TokyoTogether #StrongerTogether #HockeyInvites #WeAreTeamIndia #Hockey pic.twitter.com/DPshZMj36I
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) July 31, 2021
In their five Group Stage matches, India won two and lost three games. On Saturday, striker Katariya found herself at the right place on the field and netted a hat-trick (4th, 17th, 49th minutes) while young Neha Goyal (32nd) was the other goal-getter for India. The Indian side registered their second consecutive win at the ongoing Olympics.
Who is Vandana Katariya?
29-year-old Katariya has been a regular in the Indian team since her debut on a tour of Italy in August 2007. She started her career at 15, a couple of years before Rani Rampal. Being one of eight children born to Nahar Singh Katariya, a wrestler himself, the young athlete had spent her early years in Roshanabad near Haridwar and then moved to Meerut.
Coming from an orthodox village, Katariya had always heard her neighbours saying “she’s a girl, don’t let her step outside”. There were people who doubted her, but Katariya always her her father’s support. She told ESPN that her father always wanted all the children to pursue sports, revealing that her parents had to forego certain comforts to ensure that young hockey player had access to camps and training.
She enrolled at the Government Sports Hostel in Lucknow in 2006, and in few years, the momentum finally came when she was selected for the junior team in 2013. She has been an asset for the Indian team and helped her teammates clinch bronze at the 2013 Women’s Hockey Junior World Cup. Katariya was India’s highest scorer in the tournament with five goals. A year later, she was in the senior team playing at the Asian Games and the team went on to win the bronze. Vandana was also part of the squad that won gold at the 2017 Asia Cup. In 2018, she helped the team to win a silver at the Asian Games and won the player of the tournament award. Tokyo 2020 is Katariya’s second Olympic appearance, after Rio 2016.
Feature Image Credit: Vandana Katariya/Instagram