Carolina Marin won her third World Championship title on Sunday at Nanjing, claiming three of the last four global titles — 2014, 2015 and 2018 — to go with the Olympic championship of 2016. Many players had punctured holes in China’s dominance before her. But the Spaniard single-handedly overthrew and displaced them at the summit of shuttle.
No one has won the world title thrice in women’s singles — as feat that became possible after the global event became an annual fixture. In rampaging form, which stood out after winning next to nothing for two years, the player from Huelva in Spain bounced back from familiar pronouncements that often declare athletes “finished”. Marin is not done yet, and her plans include defending her crown at Tokyo 2020, with one more world title before that which she can stake claim to. She realistically reckons she can match China’s legend Lin Dan on his five men’s singles titles, a staggering aspiration given that unlike Super Dan she has not one but at least five other challengers who can raise their game in any given meet. Back home in Spain, she’s a hero in her tennis-crazy nation and a La Liga international ambassador — rubbing shoulders with superstars of two of the grandest international sports.
Marin’s greatness stems from the fact that her three world titles and the Olympic crown have spanned the golden period of women’s singles. Sure it’s highlighted by the steep decline of the Chinese who dominated three Olympic cycles, but it encompasses perhaps the most varied, driven and brimming talent from across five Asian countries — China, Japan, Taipei, India and Thailand. Currently, every single Top 10 player has a world’s medal — which points to just how competitive the field is. Her game that appears unconquerable on days can be challenged by the likes of Sindhu. But it is in her intent to take on the challenge of all different game-styles that Carolina Marin becomes a force of nature.