“Indian hockey superstar Rani is The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019! Huge congratulations!,” the World Games said in a statement.
“With an impressive number of votes, 199,477, Rani is the clear winner of the Athlete of the Year race, where sports fans all over the world have voted for their favourite during 20 days of polling in January. All in all, over 705,610 votes were cast during the poll,” it added.
Last year, India won the FIH Series Finals, and Rani was named Player of the Tournament. Under Rani’s leadership, the Indian women’s team qualified for just the third Olympic Games in its history.
Rani is currently playing matches in New Zealand. She promoted the poll on social media and was thrilled to win the title.
“I dedicate this award to the entire hockey fraternity, my team and my country. This success has only become possible with the love and support from hockey lovers, fans, my team, coaches, Hockey India, my government, friends from Bollywood, fellow sportspersons and my countrymen who have continuously voted for me,” said Rani, who was recently named among the Padma Shri awardees.
“Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to The World Games Federation for this recognition,” she added.
“Rani is an inspirational athlete, and a role model for many in India. It was amazing to see the support the Indians, even as high up as Mr Rijiju, the Minister of State, Youth Affairs and Sports, gave to her in this vote together with the Hockey fans all around the world. This is what sport is about: uniting people from different backgrounds and different countries,” said International World Games Association President Jose Perurena. (UNI)