- Rani Rampal became the first hockey player to win the 'World Games Athlete of the Year'
- She won by an impressive tally of almost 2 lakh votes.
- The Indian woman's hockey team skipper had guided the Indian team to a victory in the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers.
“Indian hockey superstar Rani is The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019! Huge congratulations!,” said the World Games 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.”
The announcement was made after sports fans worldwide voted in 20 days of polling.
— Rani Rampal (@imranirampal) January 30, 2020
“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,” an elated Rani told PTI.
The Indian skipper, who was also amongst this year’s Padma Shri awardees said, “Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to The World Games Federation for this recognition.”
Rani was nominated for the prestigious award after dramatically guiding the national team to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Hockey Star @Imranirampal Wins The World Games Athlete of The Year Award?.
— Odisha Sports (@sports_odisha) January 30, 2020
“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!”
Rani is amongst the most experienced players in the national team, having been present since she was a 15-years-old. The skipper has over 240 caps for India under her belt.
“Rani is an inspirational athlete and a role model for many in India. It was amazing to see the support the Indians, even as high up as Mr Rijiju, the Minister of State, Youth Affairs and Sports gave to her in this vote together with the Hockey fans all around the world. This is what sport is about: uniting people from different backgrounds and different countries,” said International World Games Association President Jose Perurena.