Gagan K. Teja
Tribune News Service
Patiala, July 10
The sudden decision by the Indian hockey team management to drop captain Ritu Rani from the Olympics squad has left the ace player high and dry. Rani, who is lost for words in trying to explain this, said she is extremely hurt by the allegations levelled against her by the team coach, Neil Hawgood.
Rani has allegedly been dropped due to her “attitude, lack of commitment and poor performance” in the past few international tournaments. However, Rani termed the allegations baseless, claiming that there were no concrete grounds for dropping her.
“Ever since I started playing, I have thought of nothing else but hockey and questioning my commitment towards the game is extremely painful to me. Till date I have never questioned the decision of the coach and selectors but making such allegations is highly disrespectful for any player.”
She added that she was angered mainly because of the reasons given by the coach, since she shares very cordial relations with her teammates. “I have been playing for India for over a decade now and there has never been an incident of indiscipline reported against me. I deserved to be in the team and the development is highly upsetting,” she added.
It had been reported that the team management was not aware that Rani had got engaged last month. This, an official suggested, meant that her primary focus was not on the sport.
Her fiancée Harsh Sharma urged her teammates to come out in support of Rani. He said Rani was being targeted just because she is non-expressive and chooses to stay silent over all issues. “Rani was dropped from two previous tournaments by her coach, and he explained that he needed her for the Olympics and didn’t want to tire her,” he added. “He said that she had been playing for three years continuously and it would be good if she took adequate rest before the Olympics. And now he is questioning her focus and commitment, which is very strange.”
Rani did not leave the national camp on her own, the duo clarified. They said Rani had been asked by the coach to go home as she had been dropped from the squad. When she wanted to know the reason, he only said that she “lacked focus”, according to Rani.
“Getting engaged is not a crime and she doesn’t even talk to me during her practice hours. What more can they ask from a player?” wondered Sharma.
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