Badminton legend Prakash Padukone says that in order to improve on the mental aspect, which he feels will play a vital role in clinching the gold at 2016 Rio Olympics, top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu should engage the services of a sports psychologist at the earliest.
"I think Olympics is a test of mental character. Whoever is mentally strong will probably win the gold, not just in women's singles but in any sport. Olympics is a different ball game. You can win all the other tournaments, but if you are mentally not strong you can never win the Olympics," said Prakash in an interview to PTI here.
"It's important that you prepare well mentally. I would advise Sindhu and Saina to focus a little more on the mental aspect and, if required, take the help of some sports psychologist, if they feel comfortable. But they should start right now because one month or so (before the Games) won't help. It would need six to eight months.
"If I was in their place I would probably take the help of a sports psychologist as all other aspects like specialist trainer, physio and coach are being taken care of.
Some people believe, some don't that it might help. I believe so. Ultimately Olympics is a test of character. "It does not matter how well you perform the week before or the week after, (but) you have to make sure you reach the peak during the week when the badminton event is happening. It's extremely difficult to predict who will win.
The difference is so little at that level. Whoever is strong mentally will win the title," the 1980 All-England men's
single champion emphasised. Prakash is wary of predicting who, from among the Indian shuttlers, can finish on the podium at the Rio Games, but feels 2012 London Games bronze winner Saina and two-time World Championship bronze medal winner Sindhu have a better chance, having beaten all other top shuttlers at one time or the other.