Bengaluru: All excited to make her second straight Olympics, Ashwini Ponnappa is confident of putting up a strong show at Rio along with doubles partner Jwala Gutta.
The Bengaluru shuttler has come a long way from the London Olympics where the duo were unable to secure a medal. Having split up with her partner just after the Olympics before reuniting again, the duo has made steady progress, despite the ups and downs en route to their second Olympics.
The 26-year-old Ashwini is gearing up for the quadrennial event along with Jwala, training under doubles specialist coach Tan Kim. “I am confident heading into the tournament. It’s our second time at the Olympics,” said Ashwini.
“But whether it’s first or second really doesn’t matter. It will always have the same value as the previous one. But yes, we will probably have a slight advantage. It definitely helps us as we know how the environment will be and what to expect. I am as excited as I was the last time and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Having stumbled in their pursuit of a medal in the previous edition, the Hyderabad-based shuttler is hoping for a better outing this time.
“We would obviously love to win, at least return home with a medal. We have been training very hard and things our looking pretty good. We have been training in Hyderabad over the past few days. It has been very good since both of us are training together, so that helps. We have a few tournaments coming up before Rio. And then we still will have a few weeks just to train.
Moreover, the doubles specialist believes having a specialist coach is helping them up their game. “Having a new specialist coach has definitely helped us a lot. We both have been training together under him and I feel we are headed in the right direction. He has been travelling with us and having him around has been made a good impact and helped our game,” said Ashwini, who endorses Red Bull.
Speaking about the level of competition, Ashwini said, “In a tournament of this scale you cannot underestimate anyone. We are not taking anyone likely because everyone will be giving their best. But yes, we are definitely most wary of the Chinese. They are going to be the most difficult opponents.”
Heading into the Olympics India is fielding a bigger contingent in badminton as a total of seven shuttlers have made the cut as opposed to the previous edition’s five and this subsequently increases the medal chances.
“The fact that we have a bigger contingent this time will definitely work in our favour, as we will be participating in more categories. It’s pretty good to go into the tournament with a bigger group. With a bigger group our chances of returning with a medal will be higher,” signed off the Arjuna awardee....