Rani is queen of the show as India qualify for Olympics

Updated: Nov 03, 2019, 08:00 IST | Kashinath Bhattacharjee | Bhubaneswar

With more than 200 matches under her belt in her illustrious career, Rani knows a thing or two about handling pressure situations.

India skipper Rani Rampal
India skipper Rani Rampal

Bhubaneswar: A miraculous strike from Rani Rampal in the 49th minute earned the Indian women's hockey team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics here on Saturday. India beat USA 6-5 on aggregate despite losing 1-4 in the second leg of the FIH Qualifier.

How did her team cope with the stress of it all? "At the break, we told ourselves the match is 0-0 now and we have to win it in the next 30 minutes. We regrouped and played our hearts out. In the end, it was a sweet victory. We did it and that’s it," said Rani.

With more than 200 matches under her belt in her illustrious career, Rani knows a thing or two about handling pressure situations. "Yesterday we did everything right, converted the chances as we got them. They [USA] did the same today, but we had worked for these two matches and not for once we thought we would be outdone." The Indian team qualified for Rio 2016, but they finished at the bottom of the table. Four years hence, India have qualified with an aggregate 6-5 and the road ahead is challenging.

"We have almost 10 months to prepare for the [July-August 2020] Olympics. We have to continue what we have been doing and try to improve in every aspect of the game under our Sir [Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne]. It takes a lot to be among the best 12 teams in the world. There are so many juniors in the team for whom it would be a great experience to be in the Olympics. Let’s see…" an elated Rani said with a smile.

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