#1 ty extended the lead to 16-9.Bristol were reduced to 14 men after 64 von jcy123 02.02.2018 04:27

The Indian womens hockey team will be in action at the Olympics for the first time since 1980, when the sport had made its Olympic debut for women. The qualification process for the Indians was not easy, and they go into the competition as the lowest-ranked nation, at 13th. There was a further distraction for the team when regular captain Ritu Rani was dropped due to disciplinary reasons on the eve of the teams departure for their pre-Olympic series of friendlies against USA and Canada.?While captaincy was given to Manipuri defender Sushila Chanu, this also brought the focus in the forwardline back on to the Rani Rampal, who at 21 already has over 150 international caps and is closing in on 100 goals.Rani, who is known for her prolific goalscoring, has been in and out of the Indian team in recent months due to injuries. When this interview originally took place, she was in the process of recovery, but since then has played for the team in friendlies in Australia and North America.Excerpts from the interview, where she spoke about her beginnings, her moments of self-doubt and realising the common dream of qualifying for the Olympics.Q: Rani, is it true that when you first approached your coach to take up hockey, you were rejected because you were too small?A: When I started off, it was in my village Shahbad, which has one of Indias best hockey academies. Hockey is the only game played there. I used to get inspired by watching all the hockey players. I was six when I first went to the academy and met the coach there, Dronacharya awardee Baldev (Singh) sir.I told him that I want to play hockey. He said to me, Nahin, aap abhi bahut chhote ho. Main aapko ek-do saal ke baad lunga (You are too young to take up hockey and Ill induct you after one or two years). I kept insisting, but then I thought to myself maybe hes right and besides one year isnt such a long time.Two years later, I went back to him and said, Mujhe hockey khelna hai?(I want to play hockey). I was a bit weak and fragile back then, so he again sent me back saying that I needed to become stronger. But this time I just wouldnt move. He eventually relented and took me under his wings.Q: You also made your India debut at a very young age. How did you approach your first game?A: In 2007, when I was in the junior India camp, I got injured and had to leave. Mujhe aisa bola gaya ki yeh player eligible nahin hai aur yeh kabhi India ko represent nahin kar sakti (I was told I was ineligible for the camp and that I would never go on to represent India).It became a huge challenge for me to overcome. I was also very young then. I went back to Baldev sir. He motivated me a lot in those days and he kept my morale high. He would always tell me that I have to overcome this challenge and to prove those people wrong that said that I would never be able to represent India.In 2008, I made my India debut and it was a really big challenge for me then. I was so young and my teammates were about nine or 10 years my senior back then. There was a major difference in level between them and me. My first tournament was the Olympic qualifier. Halaanki main aapko bataoon, uss waqt mujhe Olympic ka matlab bhi nahin pata tha (To be honest, I knew nothing about the Olympics back then).There were lots of senior players playing like Surinder Kaur, Jasjit Kaur, etc. playing alongside me and they all played as strikers. My first aim was to catch up with them. I would keep watching them and trying to learn from them.Q: You were named the best player of the 2013 Junior Hockey World Cup (in Monchengladbach, Germany)...A: Yes, that will always be a memorable moment for me. Not just for me but also for the Indian team, because that was the first time in Indian womens hockey history that we returned with a medal from a World Cup [India won bronze]. It was a very good experience; it may have been a Junior World Cup, but to be adjudged the best player was a huge achievement.What such an award does is that it gives a player confidence and motivation to take ones performance to the next level. That medal was also valuable for us (in the womens team) because a lot of juniors from that event got the confidence to step up to the senior side.Q: When did you come to know of the Olympics and when did the desire get instilled to play there one day?A: When I was part of the Olympic qualifiers in 2008, we used to have a very experienced full-back called Suman Bala -- shes settled in the United Kingdom now -- and I remember something she told me after we played the United States and lost 4-1. Woh mujhe match ke baad bole ki tune dekha USA kaise khele (She came to me after the match and asked me if I saw how the USA played)? I said yes, to which she replied, that you must play like them in four years from now.I really couldnt understand what she said, because I couldnt get the reference to four years. What she meant was that in four years time, the Indian team should be playing at the level needed to qualify for the Olympics. Then we lost out an opportunity to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games when we hosted it in 2010.At such a young age, when you fail to win anything in a major event, you just feel like your career is over. Its only now with experience that I have been able to appreciate that sportspersons never give up and that defeat is a part of life. Then we also failed to finish on the podium during the 2010 Asian Games; the only thing that would strike me then is that why am I still pursuing the sport, in spite of the fact that I was still so young [smiles].Then I thought to myself, let me play the 2012 Olympic qualifiers and let us qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. We lost this one very closely, too. And then I remembered those words about being at that level in four years time. Back then I felt that this is the one and only chance I have to qualify for the Olympics and I couldnt afford to miss it.We lost a very close contest 3-1 to South Africa in the final (of the qualifiers), which was played in India itself. At that stage, I was very close to quitting hockey altogether. Then the 2013 Junior Hockey World Cup medal boosted my confidence, and then I set my sights on the Asian Games the following year.At the Asian Games, we finished with a bronze but again we failed to qualify for the Olympics. But the fact that we won bronze made me believe that we were on the right track. The last round of qualifying (at the Hockey World League) was something where we said to ourselves that this is our last chance.We simply had to finish in the top five to qualify. By then it had become an obsession, a dream to play a role in taking my team to the Olympics. The girls really put in a major effort and they deserve every bit of credit. The players -- those that are no longer part of the national team -- have sacrificed so much to make this dream possible.Q: You mentioned about entertaining thoughts of giving up on several occasions. How did your support system get you through these times?A: When you are young, you dont know about a lot of worldly things. It is only with experience that you learn so much more. Haar jaana, ghar jaana, aur phir khaana nahin khaana (When Id lose, I would go home and not eat anything) and then my parents would tell me that your loss is behind you; not eating is not a solution to that.But I would be so angry with myself, that I would take that anger out by skipping my meal. Thats when they would step in and just tell me to work harder. Furthermore, our coach Baldev Singh is so strict, he just cannot stand the thought of defeat. He has had so many of his wards play for the Indian team, that every defeat for India hurts him personally.When he starts coaching girls, his minimum target for them is to play for India -- he doesnt think of the Shahbad team or the Haryana team. His only thought is how his students can play better for India. So if we go back to the academy (after losing) he rebukes us saying how we can lose while representing India, when the country spends so much money on our coaching and training.So during that difficult time, he was the main motivator. He would prime us very well before any camp or any tournament so that we could give our best for India. He always inspired us to perform in such a way that fans must always believe we are deserving of putting on the India jersey.I must tell you I hail from a very poor family and I often feared that my parents may never be able to afford to let me play hockey for a living. Thats when my coach and my senior players guided me and supported me and I owe it to them that I am where I am in life.Q: Besides your coaches and parents, youve also had a few sponsors and foundations backing you. How does it feel being a role model for Indian girls aspiring to take up the sport?A: Absolutely, I am very fond of girls and I would want every family to have a girl child born in it, and that she pursues sport. I think girls are capable of working harder than boys, because they are driven by a greater passion and seriousness towards work.They also think a lot more about doing something good for their parents so that they make them proud. Doing something for the country comes after that. Its natural that if you work hard and perform, then all kinds of things follow. Hum accha nahin karte, tab humari apni parchhai bhi follow nahin karti (When you fail, your own shadow also deserts you).Girls must choose sports and work hard at it. Then sponsors and all just fall in place with time, though I believe sponsors find it difficult (to associate) with team sports, because nowadays they prefer supporting individual sports. It might be difficult, but in life one must never give up. 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Wales No. 8 Taulupe Faletau made his comeback after more than 10 weeks out with a medial knee ligament injury as Bath earned a scrappy 16-9 Aviva Premiership victory over winless neighbours Bristol.Faletau was taken off after 55 minutes in an unspectacular return but the Welsh management will be relieved that he can be considered to face South Africa in Cardiff next weekend.Baths seventh win in eight games put them top of the table - for 24 hours at least - but their mix-and-match line-up could conjure only one try, scored by wing Jack Wilson in the first half.In front of a record attendance at the Rec of 14,241, Bath spent almost all the first 20 minutes tackling and only once had possession inside the Bristol 10-metre line.For all the ball the visitors had in that first quarter, though, they seldom threatened and when they did, poor alignment let them down. Eventually, a 70-metre Tom Homer clearance bounced kindly into touch inside the Bristol 22 and they were suddenly under pressure when Rhodri Williams clearance was charged down.Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland was helped off with a leg injury to be replaced by Adam Hastings, but Homer opened the scoring for Bath with a 19th-minute penalty. Faletau carried strongly from the restart only for his fellow forwards to go off their feet at the ruck and Billy Searle was on target for 3-3.Helped by a dominant scrum the home side had now shrugged off the overrly defensive mindset.dddddddddddd In the 27th minute, Wilson supported flanker Tom Ellis to score under the posts after Matt Banahan had drawn several defenders. Homer converted.Errors were creeping into Bristols game but their work at the breakdown was busy and they forced enough turnovers and penalties to stop Bath finding any rhythm.When Elliott Stooke was whistled up at a ruck, Searle made it 10-6 with his second penalty. Homer replied from short range after Bristol were caught offside in a ruck in their own 22 but Searle had the last word on the stroke of half-time with his third successful kick when Ross Batty did not roll away quickly enough from the tackle area.A smart break by Williams from the base of the scrum gave Bristol hope but Bath began to crank up the pressure with their ball carriers and Homers third penalty extended the lead to 16-9.Bristol were reduced to 14 men after 64 minutes when centre Jason Woodward fell the wrong side of a ruck on his own line after Faletaus replacement, Zach Mercer, almost made the line.Bath could not make the extra man count, however, and it was Bristol who finished strongest, forcing a line-out in the corner. Agonisingly, Will Hurrell spilt a pass after half-a-dozen phases and they had to be content with a losing bonus point. 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