Indian women’s hockey team forward Vandana Katariya became a household name after he exploits at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 29-year-old had scored an important hat-trick against South Africa that helped the team go through to the knockout phase of the competition.

In a guest appearance on Hockey India podcast Hockey Te Charcha, Vandana shared insights on her journey from her prolific goal scoring in the 2013 Women’s Hockey Junior World Cup, to becoming a mainstay in the present senior women’s with over 250 international caps to her name.

Speaking about the pivotal moment in her life after her father passed away in April 2021, Vandana spoke about the support she received from her teammates and head coach Janneke Schopman at a difficult period in her life.

“After losing my father last year, the support that I received from my teammates, national team staff and Janneke Schopman, it helped me stand on my feet again. It has been a major turning point in my life and my career. I realised that just like I have a family back home, these people are like my family in the national camp,” she said.

Katariya rose to stardom last year by becoming the first Indian women’s player ever to score a hat-trick at the Olympics. Not only did she achieve this feat, but she produced this iconic performance with India being on the brink of elimination in the Group Stage.

Speaking about the match against South Africa, she recalled, “We had a team meeting a day before that match, and I remember that the team was feeling very low after our defeat against Great Britain.

“I thought about all the months of hard work and sacrifices that had gone into taking us into that moment, and all I could think of was how I can contribute to the team as a forward, because we didn’t want our journey to end in the Group Stage with disappointment. I was naturally very happy to score a hat-trick, but it was a complete team performance that day with everyone from the back line to the forward line contributing equally and helping us to get a win that day.”

Katariya’s efforts contributed to the Indian women team’s best performance ever at the Olympic Games. The 29 year-old forward from Roshnabad has been on the end of high praise in the past year, but she is not resting on her laurels just yet.

Speaking about her plans for the coming year, she said, “The goal that I have set for myself this year is to help the team win the gold medal in the Asian Games so we can secure our qualification for the 2024 Olympics. I am also excited for the World Cup this year, where our goal is to make it into the final of the competition. I am going to work really hard on my technical skills in training, because that is the best way that I can help the team’s cause.”