“It is the highest level of the game and a dream for any sportsperson; I can only hope and try, cannot predict,” Saina told IANS yesterday of her Olympic chances.
“Let’s wait and see what London holds for me. My coach Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) and the team are doing their best to help me with my game and build confidence level," said the badminton star.
Four years ago when she played at the Beijing Olympics she was a teenager — 18 — and became the first Indian to enter the badminton quarter-finals at the Olympics. Now she is heading for London with confidence, experience and several titles in the run-up to boot. Those who have followed the Hyderabadi from close quarters insist the 22-year-old is India’s best bet for a medal in London. Expectations have risen after her splendid title wins at the Thailand Open and Indonesia Super Series titles last month, where the World No 4 stood up to the domination of the Chinese girls and proved they can be beaten.
Saina has defeated all top players of the world except current No 1 Wang Yihan, one of the three Chinese, who will be in action in the women’s singles at the London Olympics.
“Let us see what happens. I will give my 100 percent in all the matches,” she said when asked if she is confident of beating Wang this time.
Saina believes all opponents are going to be tough as every player is working very hard for the prestigious competition. “It all boils down to what happens on that particular day against an opponent. I believe in hard work and leave the rest to the Almighty. “
Coming back to the Chinese, besides Wang Yihan the other player to have troubled her is third-ranked Li Xuerui. So, has Saina and her coach worked out a strategy to tackle the Chinese? “It is all spontaneous and on that particular day how our strategy will work; we are concentrating on skills, stamina and my speed.” —
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