Road to Paris: Marin’s Steely Resolve in Gold Pursuit

After her last tune-up tournament before the Olympic Games – the KAPAL API Indonesia Open 2024Carolina Marin sounded an ominous warning to her chief rivals. Despite her semifinal performance there, and a successful early season, she hadn’t been 100 per cent, she said, but she would be in Paris.

“I will work a lot. We will change little things. I will increase (training load) for the Olympic Games. I know I’m not 100 per cent, but for sure I will be at the Olympics,” said the 2016 Olympic gold medallist.

“During this week I improved on many things. This is what I want to keep the focus on the way and just go back to Spain and get ready again.”

It has been an extraordinary career, but who would have thought that after surgery on either knee, and having missed Tokyo 2020 after winning gold at Rio 2016, Marin would be in prime position for a second title?

Marin after winning the All England

To be sure, the Spaniard is one of at least five standout contenders, led by An Se Young. Yet, Marin has done it all on the biggest of stages; apart from the Olympic gold, she has three World Championships titles.

She has had a strong season, carrying on from her near-win at the only major title to elude her – the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals last December. She won the YONEX All England in March, the first of three back-to-back titles which included the YONEX Swiss Open and European Championships.

A semifinal at the Indonesia Open saw her pre-Olympic tournament season end on a positive note, but Marin promised there were bigger things in store.

“For sure there are many positives. If I keep the way that I want, I have to improve many things. This is what I want to do until the Olympics, and I feel proud. Because sometimes it’s hard to change your mind when you are on the negative side, but I need to be more positive, more focussed on the things I need to do against any opponent.”

It’s rare for a top player to return as favourite for Olympic gold after major knee injuries, but Marin said the thought of another gold had driven her.

“For sure I will be ready for Paris,” she said, with trademark confidence. “This is my main goal for the last three years after I got injured in my second knee. This is what I want to keep in mind every day, even when sometimes it’s too hard for practice; this is what I want to keep maintaining.

“I don’t want to think about the injury. This is how sport is. You have to push yourself to the limit. I know it will be hard, but I’m ready. I’m looking forward to it and I want to push my body and my mind hard.”

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