Rio Olympics 2016: Disappointed with women team’s performance, says axed Ritu Rani
The Indian senior women’s hockey team failed to rise to the occasion and settled for an ignominious wooden spoon finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Indian eves’ disappointing campaign was marred by the ‘unexpected sacking’ of seasoned Ritu Rani – it was like delivering ‘two blows at one go’ to the 24-year-old Haryana girl.
Not only was she stripped of captaincy but also dumped from the side for what was termed as ‘she lost focus’ – something the player in question has not been able to fathom till date. “I’m still trying to understand where did I ‘lose my focus’. I was fully fit and had no injury niggles. As you all know, I was rested for the New Zealand and Australia tours but I did play in the England tour.
“Performance-wise ask my team members and you will know how I performed in the pre-Olympic tourneys. If I was rested for two tours, how did I suddenly lose focus – something which has been difficult for me to come to grips with,” says Ritu in a freewheeling chat.
Ritu has been the national team skipper since April 2012, and under her captaincy, India had won a bronze medal in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games as well as a silver medal in the Asian Champions Trophy in Japan, besides guiding her side to their first Olympic qualification in 36 years, only to be shunted out just weeks before the Olympics.
“The disappointment of not playing in the Olympics is yet to sink in. I got engaged but I never took leave from the national camp for it – I had got engaged only during the time the team had a break from the camp. I will gladly accept if I have done anything wrong, but it is hard to accept the reason that I lost focus and was having performance and attitude issues,” she says with a tinge of sadness.
The seasoned midfielder left the national camp after her name was missing from the Rio Olympic-bound 16-member squad. So he did she watched the women’s team matches in Rio? “I missed the first few matches but did watch the other games. I was deeply disappointed to see the way we performed.
“The Olympics was a great opportunity to improve our world ranking and make an impression against the top teams, but after our first game against Japan we struggled to get the ball out of our own half. You saw for yourself how we struggled to stay competitive,” she quips.
The Haryana Police Inspector, however, is happy to see India move up in the world rankings. “It will be a big boost for the girls. Even though we moved up by one spot to 12th, the girls will feel a lot better,” she oozes optimism.
The former skipper is unsure of the road ahead. “I don’t know, to be honest. I’m available for selection but I don’t know if I will be called up for our next national camp,” she signs off, perhaps hoping against hope.