Marin eyes bigger goals

Spain, a country obsessed with soccer and tennis, is still coming to terms with the achievements of Carolina Marin.

Her Olympic gold medal has finally got the ball rolling for badminton in her country, but there are still yards to cover. While there are players emerging, they are miles behind the stature Carolina has achieved in a short span. In fact, getting sparring partners back home has always been a challenge for her. It, though, never came in way of her ambition. She is aware that she is the hunted one on the circuit and determined to keep the equation intact.

"I can feel now that everyone wants to defeat me. But my motivation was to be number one, and it remains so, to work hard and be No 1," said Marin, who is the two-time World Champion, an All England Champion winner, besides an Olympic champion. Though she has fallen to No 2 in world rankings, it has only whetted her appetite to win.

"I want to repeat the performance at All England, World Championship, European Championship and win some more Superseries titles."

Marin is proud that her achievements have opened the doors for future shuttlers in Spain. "Today I see more people playing badminton, especially children. It is great because in Spain tennis is more popular. Things have changed since my Olympic gold," she said.

Still, her Olympic feat didn't attract the frenzied celebrations that normally surrounds an Indian Olympic medallist. She was recognised by her government, but it was nowhere close to what happens here.

An admirer of Rafael Nadal, Marin's dream of meeting the multiple-time Grand Slam was fulfilled at the Games Village in Rio. When asked about Nadal's knowledge of badminton, her coach Fernando Rivas chipped with a "funny" anecdote. "When I met him in 2008 in Beijing and introduced myself, he said badminton is very tiring! Imagine we are used to seeing him play five-hour matches but he is saying it is too tiring for him."

Marin, who is representing Hyderabad Hunters, was calculated in her response to the tournaments' 11-point scoring system, which even BWF is mulling to incorporate.

"I had one week break before I came here, so I couldnt train a lot. So this kind of scoring system here is good for me. I dont know if I can recommend it in international circuit. But if BWF use these scoring then we have to change a lot of things ," she said.

Marin who has beaten both Sania Nehwal (All England, World Championships) and PV Sindhu (Rio Games) in the finals of prestigious events, refused to pick a favourite. "They are both great players."