NEW DELHI: Indian women's hockey skipper Rani Rampal on Tuesday said the 2016 Rio Olympics was the turning point for the women's game in the country and it is because of the experience gained there that the side was able to finish fourth at the recently concluded Tokyo Games.
"Rio Olympics was a good experience for us, it was our first experience at the Games, we finished 12th and it was very disappointing to see the end result. But it was the turning point, we learned a lot from that experience. We finished 4th at the Tokyo Games, people are appreciating us and they are showing their love. I want to thank everyone for their support. The entire country watched our matches, it is a big thing," Rani told ANI.
Talking about coach Sjoerd Marijne's role, Rampal said: "Sjoerd Marijne has done a good job for us, he always had the belief, before this Olympics, we knew he will step down as the coach. He took this decision last year as he wanted to give time to his family. I respect his decision as giving time to family is important."
Last week, the Khel Ratna Award was renamed after hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand. Rani feels that the stalwart should also be awarded the Bharat Ratna.
"Major Dhyan Chand was a magician with the hockey stick, it feels good that Khel Ratna has been named after him. I hope that he also gets awarded with Bharat Ratna," said Rani.
The Indian women's hockey team, moved up to the 8th position according to the latest FIH world rankings. The Indian eves, who faced three losses in the initial matches, went on to pull off arguably the biggest upset as they beat World No.3 Australian side in what was their first-ever quarter-final of the Olympics.