In unexpected move right before the final squad for the Olympics is to be announced, Captain of the Indian women’s national team, Ritu Rani has been dropped from the side. News of this development came in on Sunday, and Ritu has since left the ongoing training camp in Bengaluru and returned to Shahabad, her native village in Haryana. This has been confirmed by the Hockey India management.
The actual reason is not clear thus far but sources say that the 24-year-old Haryana player has been dropped from the team since her performance levels were dipping. “It’s correct that Ritu is not in the Olympic team. Her exclusion is solely on two counts -her (poor) performance and her attitude. It was explained to her time and again that she needed to lift her performance but she couldn’t do so. The camp is still going on in Bangalore. Ritu left the camp on Thursday,” A member of the coaching staff said TOI.
However, Ritu’s parents believe that the ongoing politics and rampant partialism in the team are responsible for this sudden incident. “In March, she was awarded Ajit Pal Singh Midfielder Award by Hockey India. She also went to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few days back. Her name was recommended for Arjuna Award. Now all of a sudden this news is very strange and fishy”, said her parents.
It was under Rani’s leadership and strong guidance that the Indian women’s hockey team qualified for the Olympic Games this year after a long gap of 36 years. She has also been a key player in the squad for more than a decade, playing in the midfield position. Rani recently got engaged to Patiala-based Punjabi singer Harsh Sharma who is the son of SAI coach and former hockey player Poonam Bala Sharma. Although Rani had announced that she would get married only after the Rio Olympics, it is being speculated that national team chief coach Neil Hawgood was disappointed that Ritu gave priority to her engagement ceremony over the camp, especially since her fitness levels weren’t top notch. Finding it very unprofessional, when Ritu came back to the camp post her engagement, she was told to go back.
Whatever the reason may be, one thing is for sure that we have excluded a terrific and hardworking player from the team and this will surely effect the performance at Rio.
Feature Image Credit: the hindu.