India women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal has been nominated for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award while Vandana Katariya, Monika and Harmanpreet Singh have been nominated for the Arjuna Award by Hockey India.
Rani has led the India team to historic victories in the Women’s Asia Cup in 2017, silver at the 2018 Asian Games and played a critical role in the Olympic Qualifiers in 2019 by scoring the deciding goal that helped in their qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
In this period, the Indian eves also climbed to a career-best world ranking of No.9. First from India to be named as the World Games Athlete of The Year 2019, Rani has also been the recipient of the Arjuna Award in 2016 and the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2020.
Hockey India President Mohd Mustaque Ahmad said, “Sardar Singh was the last hockey player to win the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. Rani has set new benchmarks in women’s hockey and we at Hockey India feel she is very deserving of the top award.”
Meanwhile, striker Vandana who has over 200 international caps and Monika with over 150 international caps, both recommended for the Arjuna Award, have played key roles in the Indian team’s sensational wins in 2019 which include the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima and the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Bhubaneswar.
Harmanpreet, who has also been shortlisted for the Arjuna Award, stepped up his role in the team and shouldered the responsibility of Vice Captain with aplomb. As a defender-dragflicker he was instrumental in the team’s winning performance in the FIH Series Finals in Odisha.
At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Test Event, he captained the team to victory in the absence of Manpreet Singh who was rested for the tournament. Harmanpreet was also part of the Indian team that won the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers against Russia last year.
While former India stars Dr RP Singh and Tushar Khandker’s continued contribution in the field of hockey has led to their recommendation for the Major Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement.
BJ Kariappa who is nominated for the Dronacharya Award alongwith Romesh Pathania, has coached the Indian junior men’s team to silver medal at the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2019. Pathania, on the other hand, continues to serve the sport as coach of Punjab National Bank.