Ever since winning the badminton women’s singles gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics after defeating PV Sindhu in the final, Spaniard Carolina Marin has become a household name in India. In Marin’s own words, she is a bigger star in India than in Spain.
A three-time world champion and winner of 29 titles, Marin has been blighted by injuries in recent years. It has seen the former world No. 1 slide down the world rankings to 18. Having now recovered from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture in her right knee, Marin is aiming for yet another gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
In a free-wheeling chat with Hindustan Times on Sunday, the shuttler spoke about her planns for the future.
You have returned from a very serious injury. How are you feeling?
Now I am fully fit and fine and raring to go. I had to miss a few events in due to injury and it was almost career threatening but I never lost hopes and kept praying to God for a quick recovery.
Can you talk us through your recovery process?
I have been working hard on my fitness with my physio. My team of experts has been working day and night on my fitness as this is the most important aspect of a player’s life. I had almost lost all my hopes about my fitness after injury, but my physio etc., helped me win back my confidence as well as fitness.
How much you did miss being on the court during this period?
It was really tough to stay away from the live action. But even while resting in hospitals or at home, I kept watching the game as I wanted to keep myself updated with what was happening in the badminton world. Frequent changes in my world ranking due to not playing kept haunting me for a while but I was sure of a comeback on the court soon.
The Tokyo Olympics are a few months away. How do you plan to prepare for the same?
It’s straight and simple: play and win as many events as I can, as garnering ranking points is necessary. Success in tournaments would also keep me motivated for yet another podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics as I wish to win yet another gold medal. In fact, I am raring to go for this.
You have faced both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal in your career. Who would you say is the tougher opponent of the two?
I never try to differentiate between these two. For me, an opponent on the court is someone that I need to beat at any cost. Both Saina and Sindhu are great players, not only of India but the world as well. I admire the games of these two, but I feel that drawing a comparison between them won’t be justified.
You often use the term ‘we’, rather than ‘I’, even though you play singles…
Yes, I always say ‘we’ as it indicates a group of people. Behind the success of an individual, especially that of a sportsperson, there has always been a team, which includes mentor, coach, physio, physiologist, and even trainer. So whenever you get success, it’s an effort of everyone involved.
What are your thoughts on the Premier Badminton League?
I am going to miss this season, but I would surely be playing this event next year. It’s a great event for badminton.
What is the success mantra of Carolina Marin?
One needs to be confident in making his or her game plan. I am quite adaptable to the situation and I keep changing my plans as per the situation. I don’t start with any certain plan against a particular player, but I always keep a tab on the playing style as well as techniques of the rivals. I just keep following the basics and things automatically happen my way.