New Delhi: Indian women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal, who has been named the World Games Athlete of the Year, was on Friday handed an out-of-turn promotion by the Sports Authority of India to honour her achievement.
Rani, who joined SAI as an assistant coach in 2015, has been promoted to the post of coach (Level-10), with immediate effect.
Speaking about the initiative of SAI to reward Rani on her achievement, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said, "As an organization, the welfare of sportspersons is SAI's primary concern. It is the government's duty to provide the best facilities to athletes and motivate them to perform better.
"Ensuring that our athletes have a sound financial standing is of immense importance. This is our way of appreciating Rani for all that she has contributed to the country," Rijiju said.
The 25-year-old Rani was named the World Games Athlete of the Year on Thursday through an online voting process spanning three weeks. She received over 199,000 votes to emerge winner for the award instituted by the International World Games Association.
Rani has served the country with distinction since making her debut in 2009 as a 15-year-old. She captained the Indian side that qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016. She also led the Indian team that won a silver in the 2018 Asian Games. Last year, under her leadership, the Indian team qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
She is a recipient of Arjuna Award in 2016 and she was named as a Padma Shri awardee by the government on the eve of the country's 71st Republic Day.
Over the last few years, SAI has appointed a number of leading sportspersons as coaches, even when they were active athletes, in order to ensure financial stability for them and their families.
Athletes like Muhammad Anas Yahiya, Sharad Kumar, OP Jaisha, Savita Punia and Ashwini Akkunji are among the athletes who are currently posted as coaches in SAI.
"It has been SAI's constant endeavour to support athletes at all stages of their sporting career. This not only includes inducting them into SAI schemes and training centres from a young age and then supporting their careers when they become elite sportspersons, but also preparing them for a career after sport," the SAI said in a release.