If Carolina Marin is to capture a second successive Olympic gold medal, it will require the grittiest of comebacks – even for badminton’s Iron Lady.
Instead of facing tough opponents across the net, her biggest rival right now is time – and it’s going quickly!
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games’ Qualification Period for badminton begins tomorrow – Monday 29 April – and Marin will still only be roughly halfway through her recovery programme.
Given a six-month recovery timeline following an anterior crucial ligament (ACL) injury to her right knee in late January, the Spanish star has been fighting to get fit and back on court as soon as she can. Shortly after surgery, she began intense rehabilitation, fully aware that she didn’t have the luxury of time.
However, a tough customer who has overcome the odds in her rise to stardom, the Olympic champion is not daunted.
“My recovery is going really good. I don’t know how long I will need to be 100 per cent again but I feel really happy with how it’s going,” said the 25-year-old.
“When I heard that I’d broken my ACL, I was really sad. I was crying. Then I told myself ‘It’s ok. These things happen’ so now I need to think positively. It’s going to be a long road to recovery and (I need) to be patient. This is how I am thinking now.”
Día 71 – Nadie dijo que sería fácil, pero este camino está siendo muy especial 😉💫
— Carolina Marín (@CarolinaMarin) April 10, 2019
Her confidence has been boosted by the fact that she is receiving world-class treatment and that her entire entourage is helping her.
“I am confident with myself and with my team behind me. They are supporting me every day. My focus is to recover my knee 100 per cent and, when I come back, I hope to be 100 per cent and give my best.”
Having won an unprecedented third women’s singles World Championships gold medal last year before conquering the field in last September’s Yonex Japan Open 2018 – played at the very Musashino Forest Sports Plaza which will host the Badminton Competition for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Marin seemed primed for a strong build-up to her title defence.
That was until Sunday 27 January this year when, leading the final of the Daihatsu Indonesia Masters 2019 versus Saina Nehwal of India, the left-hander leapt sideways for a shot and her right leg gave way on landing. The Rio 2016 gold medallist collapsed in pain and retired from the match.
Esta noche a las 23.00 no os perdáis el estreno en exclusiva en @Eurosport_ES 2 de #Leyendas con @quiquepeinado y una servidora! 😊🏸 Deseando verlo! 😍 (Y muy pronto en @DMAX_es) pic.twitter.com/sPFLUqnAXh
— Carolina Marín (@CarolinaMarin) March 7, 2019
Now, just over two months later, she is plotting her route back to the top.
“I’ve been working on an anti-gravity treadmill so I can control (how much of) my weight I want (to use) to walk on the treadmill. Now, I’m working with half of my weight so we can control my steps. Also, I’m doing some work on the bicycle and I’m trying to walk in the pool,” revealed Marin, discussing her rehabilitation programme.
As she focuses on what she must do over the coming months, the European icon is buoyed by encouragement from countless fans worldwide – and she reserved some special words for them.
“I would like to say thank you to all my fans. They are so amazing. I have received so much support from the moment I got injured. I really appreciate all the messages.
“A big thank you. I love you guys!”