Hockey India has nominated women’s national team captain Rani Rampal for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. Her compatriots Vandana Katariya and Monika along with Harmanpreet Singh got recommendation for the Arjuna Award.
Names of former India stalwarts Dr RP Singh and Tushar Khandker are suggested for the Major Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement, while two coaches – BJ Kariappa and Romesh Pathania – have been nominated for the Dronacharya Award.
During the period of consideration for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2019, Rani has led the Indian team to historic victories in the Women’s Asia Cup in 2017, final of the 2018 Asian Games and played a critical role in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in 2019 by scoring the deciding goal that earned the nation a berth in the Tokyo Olympics. During this period, the India also climbed to an all-time time FIH World Ranking of No. 9. First from India to be named as the World Games Athlete last year, Rani has also been the recipient of the Arjuna Award in 2016 and the prestigious Padma Shri in 2020.
Striker Vandana Katariya who has over 200 international caps and Monika with over 150 internationals, both recommended for the Arjuna Award, have played key roles in the the team’s sensational wins in 2019, including the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima, Tokyo 2020 Olympics Test Event and the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Bhubaneswar.
National men’s team dragflick sensation Harmanpreet, also shortlisted for the Arjuna Award, stepped up his role 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 has coached the Indian juniors to the silver medal at the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2019. Romesh Pathania, on the other hand, continues to serve the sport as coach of Punjab National Bank.
Speaking about Hockey India’s recommendations for the prestigious national sports awards, 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. We are happy to endorse Vandana Katariya, Monika and Harmanpreet Singh for the Arjuna Award for their excellent performance for India in 2019.
“Dr RP Singh and Tushar Khandker nominated for the Major Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement and Coaches BJ Kariappa and Romesh Pathania nominated for the Dronacharya Award have contributed to Indian Hockey in their respective roles as players, administrators and coaches. They contribute to help build the sport and achieve our goals. It is with pride and happiness that Hockey India recommends these names for the prestigious National Awards.”