Tokyo Olympics 2020: Rani Rampal to captain women's hockey team; Deep Grace, Savita named vice-captains

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New Delhi: Hockey India on Monday named veteran striker Rani Rampal as the captain of the 16-member Olympic-bound Indian women's hockey team. Rani is the obvious choice not just for her on-field exploits but also for her innate ability to guide the youngsters in the team.

Under Rani's captaincy, the Indian team over the past four years have achieved significant results including winning the Asia Cup in 2017, silver at the Asian Games 2018, silver at Asian Champions Trophy 2018 as well winning the FIH Series Final in 2019. Rani also led the team to the quarter-finals of the FIH Women's World Cup 2018 in London for the first time. She was the cynosure of India's performance during the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in Bhubaneswar where her goal put the team ahead by 6-5 against USA to secure the qualification.

Hockey India also announced the very dependable defender Deep Grace Ekka and experienced goalkeeper Savita as the two vice-captains. Both the players have been in the Indian core group for nearly a decade and have been an integral part of the leadership circle. They also played a key role in India's feats which saw them attain a career-best ranking of World No 9 in 2018 following a strong performance at the FIH Women's World Cup.

Congratulating the three players, chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said, "I congratulate Rani on being named the captain of the Indian women's hockey team for the Tokyo Olympics. I also congratulate Deep Grace Ekka and Savita on being named vice captains of the team. All these three players have been part of the leadership group for a long time and have proven their abilities with this added responsibility and have guided many youngsters in the core group. Having two vice captains will also strengthen the core leadership group for the future. Their experience and role will be of importance as we aim to achieve good results in Tokyo. It has been a long journey for the team and we continue into a tough challenge at the Olympics. The team needs to be mentally strong and I am confident with these three players at the helm, they are headed in the right direction."

Expressing her gratitude on being named captain, Rani said, "It is a huge honour to lead the Indian team at the Olympic Games. In these past years, my role as a captain was made easy with teammates who have shared the responsibilities as senior players. I look forward to this added responsibility and thank Hockey India, Coaching staff and selectors for this honour."

Vice-Captain Deep Grace Ekka too stated that this new responsibility will motivate her to ensure the team does well in Tokyo. "To lead India as Vice-Captain at the Olympics is a huge honour and it will surely motivate me further to do well for the team. We have players from different regions of India in the team, but we have come closer as a unit over these past 15 months during the pandemic which has been challenging for all," stated Grace who will be playing her second Olympics.

Savita said, "I thank the team's support staff and Hockey India for giving me this responsibility. We are all eagerly awaiting to do well at the Olympics in Tokyo, and it will be great to lead India to good wins."

Also See: Tokyo Olympics 2020: Fair mix of youth and experience as Hockey India announce women's team

Tokyo Olympics 2020: We want to pay tribute to COVID-19 warriors by winning medal, says Manpreet Singh

Selection in Olympic-bound team was my late father's dream, says India women's hockey forward Lalremsiami

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