Arjuna awardee shuttler Aparna Popat, who stopped playing competitive badminton in 2006 and represented India in the Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004) Olympics, is hopeful that India will bag at least one medal at next month’s London Olympics.
“Earlier, the highest number of players representing the country (in badminton) at Olympics was three. This time we have five, so the chances of winning medals are also high. We can expect one medal at least,” Popat told SUNDAY MiD DAY.
According to Popat, despite India having a strong contingent this time, the spotlight will be on World No 5 Saina Nehwal. Others in fray are Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa in the women’s doubles, Gutta and Diju V in the mixed doubles and P Kashyap in the men’s singles category.
“Jwala and Ashwini have won a bronze medal at the World Championship, but Saina is more established and has more success under her belt compared to others. She will be keenly watched,” added the 34-year-old, who announced her retirement from international arena in 2006.
Popat felt it will be a great chance for Kashyap, who has been in good form. “This is a lifetime opportunity for Kashyap and he should make full use of it,” said Popat. Recollecting her experience in the mega event, Popat said, “Olympics is something like Disneyland for sportspersons. It is similar to how a child looks at Disneyland. In my first Olympics — in 2000, I was in awestruck. The second time, I enjoyed more and played better,” added Popat, a nine-time national badminton champion.