A confident Indian badminton team — comprising Saina Nehwal, P. Kashyap, Gutta Jwala, Ashwini Ponappa and V. Diju and chief coach Pullela Gopi Chand — left for Delhi enroute London to take part in the Olympics later this month.
The women’s doubles pair of Jwala and Ashwini are confidence personified.
“We won bronze in the World championship at the same venue, Wembley, where Olympics competitions are going to be held.
“We should be very comfortable with the playing conditions as the drift factor will be much less compared to the Asian venues,” said Jwala. She also pointed out that the Wembley stadium had the best lighting system in place.
The pair trained mostly at the Fateh Maidan indoor stadium under the tutelage of coach S.M. Arif with an occasional stint at the Gopi Chand Academy where ace shuttler Saina, Kashyap — India’s lone entry in men’s singles — and mixed doubles specialist V. Diju trained.
“At the Olympics, I don’t believe there can be any specific strategy or a set plan. All you are expected to do is to rise to the occasion and play high quality game to win a medal. This has been our target in the training sessions,” said Ashwini.
“Everyone will be fully prepared for this mega event. And we too are in a determined mood. We are going to fight till the last point,” added Jwala.
Saina believes that she is mentally and physically better prepared for this edition of the Olympics than the earlier one at Beijing. “You need a bit of luck to win a medal at this level. From my side, I would be giving more than 100 per cent,” she said.
Kashyap said if he plays as well as he did in the recent Asian circuit, he should be in a position to pull of a couple of surprises.
Gopi Chand reiterated that this is the strongest badminton team from India ever for Olympics.
“We have a very good chance of winning a medal. The players are capable of playing to Olympics standards. Let us hope for the best,” he said.