New Delhi: As she gears up for a "crazy" year of competition, Carolina Marin is looking to regain the form that won her Olympic badminton gold in time for next month's coveted All England Championships.
The 24-year-old Spaniard, who took the sport by storm to become its first non-Asian Olympic women's champion in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, has fallen from number one to five in the world because of injuries and poor form.
She has failed to reach a final this year, crashing out of the India Open quarter-final this month, but is keen to make her mark at the All England starting 14 March in Birmingham.
"It's very busy. My first call will be All England. Now my performance is not 100 percent, but I am sure that for All England I would be 100 percent," Marin, who won the event in 2015, told AFP on the sidelines of training in New Delhi.
"The most important thing for me is to keep improving my game," she added.
Marin's gold medal triumph at the Rio Games made her one of the most famous sports people in Spain, but injuries started dragging her down soon after.
She has not reached a tournament final since winning the Japan Open last September.
Marin lost in the Malaysia Masters semi-final last month to world number one Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan.
She then crashed out of the Indonesia Open quarter-finals before suffering another defeat in India.
"In 2017 it was hard because of injuries after Rio and I needed a break. But I have a good team who help me prepare for big tournaments," said Marin.
For 2018, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) replaced the former Superseries and Superseries Premier calendar with a new World Tour.
The governing body made it compulsory for the top 15 singles players and top 10 doubles pairs to play at least 12 tournaments.
Marin, who has joined in the criticism of the packed 2018 schedule, believes staying healthy will be key.
"The calendar for this year is going to be very crazy because we will have to play in minimum 12 tournaments and then you play in world championships so it's going to be really tough," she said.
"Most important thing is to be fit for every tournament," said Marin.
Marin praised the quality of Indian badminton that has seen stars such as Pusarla Venkata Sindhu and Saina Nehwal make their presence felt.
From her on-court rivalry with Sindhu and Nehwal to being part of India's Premier Badminton League, the South Asian country holds a special place for Marin.
"The Indian players are doing really good. Many players are coming up, like they have five players in the top 20," Marin said.
"For me to play in India is always a good feeling because I really like this country and love all my fans who support me here during PBL," she said.
Updated Date: Feb 15, 2018 09:41 AM