Mumbai: Elated at securing his maiden berth at the Olympic Games, India's top-ranked male shuttler Kidambi Srikanth is determined to make it count by winning a medal at Rio de Janeiro.
"I am very happy to have qualified and I want to win a medal in Rio. Getting an Olympic medal is the ultimate dream for any sportsperson. I just want to win a medal at these Olympics. (If it happens) it will be the crowning achievement of my career," said Srikanth at a press meet in Mumbai on Saturday.
"Qualifying is always a first step and now I am thinking only to win a medal. I am not saying I will definitely win but I have always said I want to win a medal at the Olympics. For that to happen, I have to match my opponent on the court, not just try my best," said the 23-year-old Guntur-born player.
Srikanth, who had beaten five-time world and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan in the Chinese Open Super Series final in 2014, is the lone Indian shuttler to make it to Rio in men's singles category.
The youngster, with seven professional titles under his belt, including the Indian Open last year, is here to improve his "core strength" by having a few sessions with a specialist in the new physical fitness area called Pilates, Sameer Purohit, on the advice of national coach Pullela Gopichand.
While expressing his happiness at grabbing an Olympic berth, Srikanth said his focus is to leap into the top eight in world rankings by the cut-off date for the men's singles draw.
"I would have been happier if I had been among the top eight. I should have pulled out of a few matches. My aim now is to take part in the Indonesian and Australian Open and get into the top eight," said the shuttler, who is currently ranked 12 after being in the top 10 till the end of March.
The Indonesian Open, a Superseries Premier event, is to be held at Jakarta from 30 May-5 June, to be followed by the Australian Open Superseries at Sydney from 7-12 January.
"These two tournaments are really important. If I gain some points and come back into top eight, comparatively I will get an easier draw. There will be 16 seeds. Seeds 5-8 will play seeds 1-4 only in the quarters, while 9-16 will play in the pre quarters. That's why it's important," Srikanth said.
"I have played too many tournaments over the last five-six months. Now is the time not to play too many tournaments.
After these two tournaments, I will have nearly seven-to-eight weeks' break. That's the time I will train for the Olympics.
"I want to keep my body fit. I now have three-and-a-half weeks' break. It's a very good time (to rest and train) as in the last 4-6 months I never got four weeks of training. I am thinking to do the physical aspects now to keep me fit for the Olympics," he said.
Srikanth has beaten top players like Lin Dan, Tommy Sugiarto and Lee Chong Wei in the Indian Badminton League.
According to the shuttler, though there was very little to choose when it came to the top 20 rankers, it was always difficult to play against the top three.
"It's kind of more open now. The top 20 are at the same level and it depends on who is mentally strong and who plays with better strategy on a particular day.
"It's always tough to play the top three players — Chen Long, Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan. They have so much experience, they have played in these tournaments before and they know how to handle pressure. Need to have the believe as all three have lost many matches."
Srikanth feels his aggressive style of play is his strong point, but at the same time he wanted to unravel the mystery of winning close matches after losing a few recently.
"My attacking style is one of my biggest strengths. In the last five matches, I had lost two matches in close finishes. I just need to find out a way to pull out these close matches.
"I made some crucial mistakes and at times chose the wrong strokes to execute," he said in a candid self-assessment.
Published Date: May 07, 2016 11:35 pm | Updated Date: May 07, 2016 11:35 pm