'There will come a time when no one will believe in you, but you have to continue to believe in yourself. There's nothing in the world you can't achieve as long as you work hard every single day,' says a smiling Rani Rampal upon the women's hockey team's return from the Tokyo Olympics where they faced big heartbreak after losing the bronze medal match to Great Britain.
In only their third appearance at the Olympics, the women's hockey team had an inspirational campaign where not only did they reach the quarter-final for the first time but also then became the first Indian team to reach the medal round of women's hockey. All this, when the squad started the Olympics as the ninth ranked team in the world.
Playing against odds though was not new to Rani who has come through the ranks completely on her own. Hailing from a very humble background where her father was a cart-puller, she started playing hockey at the age of six but in just ten years, she was playing for the Indian women's hockey team. At her first World Cup in 2010, Rani was the top-scorer of the team and was declared the 'Young Player of the Tournament'.
'We are realising now that we may not have won the bronze but we have inspired young girls to play hockey. People had forgotten about hockey in the country, but now girls are saying they want to play hockey - that is very special,' Rani told The Quint one day after returning back to India.