New Delhi, 30 Jan 2020: Indian Women’s Hockey Team Captain Rani Rampal became the first Indian athlete to win the prestigious World Games Athlete of the Year 2019 Award.
The 6th edition of the International World Games Association( IWGA) recognised and honoured Rani. IWGA honours an athlete or a team for their outstanding performance in 2019, or for their social commitment or particularly fair behaviour.
The 25 athletes nominated for this award from 25 sports were recommended by their International Federations and in Rani’s case, the FIH had recommended her name for the award for her outstanding performance and her ability to lead by example. She was instrumental in India qualifying for the first time in back-to-back Olympic Games.
The winner was adjudged through the number of public votes garnered and Rani accumulated a mammoth 199,477 votes. Last year, the Acrobatic Gymnastics couple Mariia Chernova and Georgii Pataraia (Russia) won the title with 159,348 votes, just ahead of American Powerlifter Jennifer Thompson with 152,865 votes.
Hockey India congratulated Rani for the award.
Rani who was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Padma Shri award, thanked her fans and well wishers for supporting her and voting for her to win the World Games Athlete of the Year 2019. “I thank each and everyone for supporting me and ensuring they voted for me. I am overwhelmed with the number of people, Indian sports Icons and also celebrities who urged everyone to vote for me and in return ensured the focus remained on Indian Women’s Hockey. If I have been able to come this far in the sport then it is because of my teammates too. I dedicate this award to Women’s Hockey and all those young aspiring women who want to chase their dreams, nothing is impossible if you believe in it. Thank you,” stated an emotional Rani, who is in New Zealand for a five-match tour.
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.
In 2019, India won the FIH Series Finals, and Rani was named Player of the Tournament. With Rani’s lead, India qualified in 2019 for just the 3rd Olympic Games in their history.
“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,” says IWGA President José Perurena.
Rani is currently playing matches in New Zealand. She promoted the poll in social media and was thrilled to win the title. After winning the award she said: “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. Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to The World Games Federation for this recognition.”
Congratulating Rani, Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, President, Hockey India said, “I congratulate Rani for winning the prestigious World Games Athlete of the Year 2019 Award. This is a very proud moment for all of us. She is the first Indian athlete to win this award and through her achievements Rani has been able to draw a lot of attention towards women’s hockey. Many people are aware of the team’s recent accomplishments and I am confident this team is capable of winning larger goals and I wish Rani and the team best of luck this Olympic Year.”