Carolina Maria Marin is a huge name in the world of sports now, with her fame only increasing by the day. She is a player who has well and truly broken the Chinese hegemony over the game. Hailing from a country which worships football and tennis, she has cracked open a place for badminton. Among the many accolades that she has to her name, the most recent and the prominent one is the 2016 Olympics Gold medal. Her attacking game play was at best display in what was one of the most exhilarating and close fought final matches, against the Indian ace, PV Sindhu.
Apart from the Olympic Gold medal, she also won Gold Medals in the 2014 and the 2016 European Champions. She also had the Gold Medal to her name for the 2014 and 2015 World Championship.
Marin boasts of a better head-to-head statistics against every top shuttler in the world and it’s no surprise that she has been the World No. 1 for quite some time now. She is known to be very expressive on the court and her play is accompanied with her frequent grunting to the chagrin of her opponents. As iterated by her performance time and again, the journey has been far from being simple. The passion for the sport and the dedication and discipline she puts forth, is reflected in her game.
Marin was recently in New Delhi to contest this year’s Yonex Sunrise India Open and to promote Spanish football in India. She also delivered a masterclass at Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi. The ace shuttler displayed her skills and held a training session, playing with three other Indian players, for the young budding athletes. She interacted with the crowd, patiently giving advice as to how to improve, signing autographs and posing for selfies. An ebullient person as she is, Marin obliged the media people as she cheerfully played a couple of knocks with them.
We, at EssentiallySports had the chance to exclusively interview her. Here are the excerpts from the same.
Question: How was your experience today playing in front of these kids?
Marin: I loved it here! It was great fun, honestly. The Indian players were good and doing the Facebook Live event was something really interesting and unique. I hope the crowd enjoyed it too. Apart from that, the selfies, autographs, photos, it felt good to know I have a fan following here.
Question: When you are playing a big game, like the Rio Olympics finals, how do you cope with the anxiety? Do you have any fears?
Marin: You have to control everything. So, while practicing, you have to practice that too (controlling nervousness). I practice how I have to be while playing a final, what I have to do, how I control the nervous feelings. I have to practice everything.
Question: You have been a role model, the way you have handled personal setbacks, like injuries, and have come out a champion in a football, tennis, and F1 dominated nation. How has the struggle been? And what kept you going?
Marin: Badminton in Spain is becoming more and more popular. It was a bit of a strange sport in my country because we are used to watching tennis. It has been a tough journey for me and I had to take the chance of playing professional badminton when it presented itself nearly 10 years ago. I have worked very hard.
Question: Speaking of football, you’re here as an ambassador of La Liga. Which is your favorite team?
Marin: Oh I love watching football, even though I don’t get the time to do it a lot. I come from Huelva, which is the home to the oldest team in Spain, but I’m a Barcelona fan.
Question: How do you feel Badminton can be better promoted around the world for it is still in its infancy?
Marin: Wow! This is not my role, I think. It is more the role of the promotions team. But, I am happy how I have inspired many young girls to pick up the sport, to play something that doesn’t have much fan following in your country and to dominate the sport in the world.
Question: Spain has been producing a lot of quality athletes since the turn of the millennium- you, Nadal, Moya, the entire football team! What magic potion has Spain been giving its athletes?
Marin: More than anything, I think it really depends on the person. For example, for me, it was really difficult to stand out because Badminton is not really popular there. I looked up to Rafael Nadal as an idol. But, it was my personal dream. I am very passionate about badminton. I sacrificed everything to be where I am right now.
Question: A quick and playful rapid fire now
Marin: Both have different gameplays. I really can’t compare. But, Sindhu is really improving a lot.
Question: Last one now. Any particular advice to the young budding athletes?
Marin: Wow! I don’t think about that at all. I don’t know what to say here except, train very hard and don’t give up on the dream you have seen since childhood. It’s going to be difficult, but, it will be worth it.