The 29-years-old goalkeeper has been terrific between the posts for India.

The Indian Women’s Hockey team created history in October last year after securing a berth at the Olympics for the second time in a row and the whole squad is training hard to compete with the big guns of world hockey in the upcoming showpiece event.

Vice-Captain Savita Puniya has said that the team’s recent tour to New Zealand was a big learning curve in their preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The team registered 4-0, 3-0 win and 1-2, 0-1 loss against hosts New Zealand while they beat Great Britain 1-0 in their five-match tour. 

“We all have reminders set on our phones that show the countdown to our first match in Tokyo. As we are getting closer, there is a lot of excitement as well as anxiousness to tick off all the boxes to ensure we are best prepared and our recent Tour in New Zealand was quite a learning experience,” expressed the ace goalkeeper. 

Savita Puniya also pointed out the specific areas they are working on in the training camp.  She said, “While our on-going camp has been about improving our fitness, speed, goal-shooting, tapping the ball and tackling, we have also tried to play with different combinations that are effective in the attacking midfield and forward-line.”

“There is a great sense of competition within the team to prove ourselves and this is helping in building competitiveness and improving as a unit.”

Analytical Coach Janneke Schopman has also played a big part in the Indian team’s recent success on various tours and Savita Puniya acknowledged her contribution to the team.

“Having Janneke Schopman as part of the support staff is also helping a lot because she brings different insights into our game and how we need to cope during tense matches. We feel the Asian Champions Trophy will be a good yardstick to measure where we stand ahead of the Olympic Games,” She concluded. 

The team led by Rani Rampal is only the third team in the history of Indian women’s hockey to achieve this feat. Previously India qualified for the Olympics in 1980 and then again in 2016.