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After denying the pre-eminent diva of Indian badminton an Olympic gold medal, Carolina Marin could have expected to be Public Enemy No. 1 in the country. But, much to the Spaniard’s relief and delight, that is hardly the case.
She is embraced wherever she goes in India. The reason could be India’s quest for medals at the Olympics – any medal. While Marin went to Rio with her eyes on nothing but the gold, India counts its achievements in the number of podium finishes.
For that reason maybe, Marin is considered an integral part of one of the most significant stories in Indian sport, rather than the villain in the piece. But the feisty 23-year-old has not hit the heights after that memorable victory over PV Sindhu. She has not won a title since then, conceded two walkovers and seen her ranking fall to No.4. But according to Marin, it is only to be expected.
“I gave my best performance in Rio, but after that it has been hard. It is difficult to keep winning all the time. Once you reach the top of the mountain, you have to come down after that,” she said, alluding to a possible letdown after the biggest win of her career. “Injuries also make it tough. One makes a lot of sacrifices for the sport, but it is important to take care of the body as well.”
A lower back injury has troubled Marin for quite some time, and though she managed it at the Olympics, it has hampered her progress since.
She has reached just one final after that, where she had to give Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi a walkover in the German Open. Her last outing was at the All England Open, where she was on the verge of victory before surrendering a big lead to Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in the quarterfinal.
“The injury played its part (at the All England), but it was more a problem with the mind. I have been stupid before, but now I know I have to take care of the body. It is difficult as I have a strong personality and want to fight it out all the time.”
That is why she wants the Badminton World Federation to rationalise the schedule. “We are only human. We need breaks, but can’t take them as we are scared to suffer a drop in rankings,” she said.