Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal recalled how she did not realise the importance of the Olympics after failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games. The hockey star guided India to the 2016 Rio Olympics, the first appearance in the event since the Moscow edition, back in 1980.
Rani Rampal has arguably been the biggest women’s Indian hockey star in recent times, with her playing an influential role in the 2014 Asian Games Bronze medal-winning campaign and the Silver win at the Jakarta edition, four years later. It was also due to her heroics that India qualified for the 2016 Olympics event, in Rio, after a gap of 36 years. But, back in 2008, when she was new to the senior team, Rani was unaware of the importance of the Olympics and recalled how her seniors wept after failing to qualify for the Beijing Games, but admitted she couldn’t understand why.
“I was very young, just 14. I did not know what the Olympics were. We had a good team. When we did not qualify, everyone was crying. I could not understand why. ‘We can win another tournament,’ I thought. But I never realized that the Olympics was so important and how difficult it will be for them to continue for another four years,” said Rani Rampal, to Hindustan Times.
“I remember we cried like hell sitting outside our hotel rooms till 4 in the morning. It seemed our life was over, careers finished. It was then I realized why my seniors were crying in 2008. I realized how difficult it is to push yourself for the next four years,” added the hockey star.
Four years later, the Indian team again failed to qualify for the Olympic Games, it was then she realised the reason why her seniors cried a few years back. But, the loss made her stronger than ever and helped and eventually made a cut to the Rio Games - which was India’s second-ever appearance in the event. Meanwhile, the Indian women's team has also qualified for the 2021Tokyo Games.
“I remember we cried like hell sitting outside our hotel rooms till 4 in the morning. It seemed our life was over, careers finished. It was then I realized why my seniors were crying in 2008. I realized how difficult it is to push yourself for the next four years,” recalled Rani Rampal.