Saina Nehwal is putting in the hard yards to boost her chances of winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.
Nehwal captured a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics, and was the only Indian shuttler to win a medal at the event. She is aiming even higher this time around as she wants to become the first Indian to win a gold medal in badminton at the Olympics.
In order to increase her chances of achieving that feat, the 26-year-old is ironing out the flaws in her game with coach Vimal Kumar.
“I’ve been preparing really hard since the last three weeks. I have another four weeks to go and am working hard on my strengths and weaknesses. There are few corrections required, so I’m working on those as well,” she told the Deccan Chronicle. “Vimal Sir is helping me work on my half smashes and get closer to my goals. It’s not easy to play at the highest level.
“I would like to give my best and like all the players my goal is also to come back with a gold medal. It’s a big contingent going from India this time, so we hope to have a triumphant return with lots of medals.”
Nehwal, though, acknowledged that her road to the gold medal will not be an easy one as there are a host of shuttlers that are capable of giving her a run for her money.
“All of them are very strong world-class players, especially Carolina, Li Xuerui, Ratchanok Intanon and Nozomi Okuhara seem strong contenders from different countries. I plan to get really hard and aggressive in my game,” she said.
With the tough challenge that lays ahead, Nehwal received a much-needed boost in confidence after she overcame an Achilles injury that had been troubling her for a lengthy period of time to win the Australian Open last month.
“I’m happy I crossed that hurdle despite my injury. I wouldn’t like to compare one tournament to the other as each of them is different. My recent win was a major morale booster for me,” she said. “Injuries are always difficult to battle. I’m happy I played well during the finals. Mine was a tough injury called Achilles tendonitis and it wasn’t easy to come out of it, but I kept strong and focused on my strength training.”