Road to Paris: Czech Ace Looking to Make Impact

When Jan Louda arrives in Paris for the Olympic Games, the world No.64 will have a degree of familiarity with the conditions, for France is a frequent destination for his league matches and training. The Czech left-hander, who was No.25 on the Race to Paris Rankings, can take confidence from his qualifying season, where he performed creditably against strong opponents (among those he beat were Weng Hong Yang and Ng Tze Yong), and could well be one of the dangerous floaters in men’s singles that the seeds will be wary of.

The 25-year-old talks about his early days in badminton and the journey to Paris 2024:

A Childhood Dream

The Olympics has been my biggest dream since I was a child. So it feels very good to fulfil this dream and represent my country in the Olympics. It will be my first, so I’m really looking forward to playing there.

I remember the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. I was watching Czech players like Petr Koukal and Kristina Gavnholt; I remember sitting in front of the TV and supporting them.

Jan Louda

A Family Affair

My father used to play badminton and he still does. My older brother also plays. It was very natural for me to start playing badminton. I also did other sports like swimming and skiing, but badminton was always No.1 in our family.

The hall was 15 minutes by bus. My first memory of badminton was playing with my father. I used to go with him on the bus to the hall.

Getting Serious

I think I was quite talented in badminton so I got good results when I was a child. I don’t know why I chose badminton. Maybe the influence of my father. When I got older I had to choose to spend more time in one sport.

Four years ago when I started to become a better player and started to be more competitive at the international level, I was beating players who had participated in the Olympics, so I felt I can be the same. If I can beat them, I can also be there.

High Points of Qualifying

I started really well in qualification. I won the first tournament, the Mexican International Challenge. After winning, I felt I could be more calm and I knew I had the level. Then with the other tournaments like the Canada Open, winning the first round against Weng Hong Yang, and also the HYLO Open where I could go to the quarterfinals, the first half-year was very good for me.

Challenges During Qualifying

I had to face injuries, so that was the hardest part, but I’m glad I could get through. I had an infection in my Achilles last summer, it took two months and I couldn’t prepare well for the World Championships. But that’s part of sport, so I tried to be positive. It was after some good tournaments I had, so I felt OK, I could afford these two months and come back and I didn’t feel it would affect qualification.

Jan Louda

Preparing for Paris

I spend most of my training time in my country. We have a coach from Spain, so our preparation is based mostly there. Sometimes I need to find some sparring to get to a higher level. Sometimes I go over to France. Also I was in Dubai with Viktor (Axelsen) for one week after the Thailand Masters. Viktor had four weeks of training before the French Open, so it was really hard.

We’ve really good conditions now in Czechia. I also play league matches in France. It’s good to play there, because the French league is one of the best in Europe.

Olympics in France

It’s really nice that it’s in Paris. It’s good for my family, they can travel there and support me, so I’m looking forward to that.

Four of us have qualified, so that’s huge for Czech badminton. I hope we can make badminton more popular so more children will play.

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