Indian women’s team captain Rani Rampal on Thursday became the first-ever hockey player to win the prestigious ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award.
“Indian hockey superstar Rani is The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019! Huge congratulations!,” the World Games said in a statement.
The announcement came after 20 days of polling by sports fans worldwide.
“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,” it added.
After winning the prestigious award, the skipper told PTI, “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”.
Rani, who was recently named among the Padma Shri awardees also said, “Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to The World Games Federation for this recognition”.
SHE’S DONE IT!@imranirampal is the World Games Athlete of the Year 2019!
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) January 30, 2020
Rani, who had a successful 2019, is now looking forward to keeping the Olympics in mind.
“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 has been part of the national team since she was a 15-years-old, currently has more than 240 caps for India.
“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.
The International Hockey Federation also congratulated Rani on being named for the award.
“Congratulations @imranirampal for becoming the first-ever Hockey athlete to win the prestigious @TheWorldGames Athlete of the Year award!” the FIH said in its twitter handle.
— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) January 30, 2020
There were initially 25 nominees, male and female, who were nominated by their respective sports federations. It was later reduced to 10 in the final round of public voting.
The FIH has recommended Rani’s name for her outstanding performances and her ability to lead by example.
Karate star Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine came in second with over 92,000 votes and Canadian powerlifter world champion Rhaea Stinn was third.
Courtesy : DNA