With its wealth of talent in various sports – best exemplified by Rafael Nadal and the soccer World Cup-winning football team – Spain can lay claim to be the sporting superpower of the world. Badminton, though, is another matter as the country did not have a tradition of producing top-level players.
However, in recent years, the emergence of Pablo Abian and, more recently, Carolina Marin have made badminton fans sit up and take notice. While Abian has given a good account of his abilities over the last three years and rose to a career-high No.20 in the world rankings, Marin is an emerging new talent who has excelled in the junior circuit and is now making ripples in the senior category as well.
The 20-year-old left-hander from Huelva, who won the Best European Young Player Of The Year Award in 2012, acknowledged that the Olympics helped to get badminton some extra mileage in her country. “Badminton in Spain is not so popular but people who like badminton really appreciate that there were two players from the country who played at the Olympic Games,” said Marin in an interview. “Badminton in my town (Huelva) is not so popular but now badminton is being played at schools and people can know more about that sport.”
Big victims on Marin's list
Marin has made an impressive foray up the senior rankings. She climbed to a career-high 26 among her title victories are the Finnish International and the Swedish International, both in 2013. In her young senior career, she has already claimed a few big victims, including Tine Baun at the European Men's and Women's Team Championships in February 2012, Yip Pui Yin at the Djarum Indonesia Open in June 2012, Eriko Hirose at last World Championships and more recently Juliane Schenk at the 2013 Mixed Team Championships. Her performances prompted world No.4 Schenk to state that Marin was one player from Europe with ‘great potential’. “If she stays injury-free she will have a great future,” Schenk told Badminton Europe.
Marin is aware of her potential and is confident of her ability to move up the ladder. “I think if I focus on my practice every day and practice hard every day, I can do everything,” she says.
Her recent performances from now on might make a world of difference to how badminton is perceived in Spain. Marin says she is happy with the recognition she has got so far, but admits she would like badminton to be as widely recognized as tennis or football. “I’m very happy (with the recognition) because in Spain it is very difficult to have many good badminton players,” she says. “But I believe that in the future Spain will have some good badminton players.”
Carolina Marin is taking part in this week's US Open.
Article by Dev Sukumar. Photo by BadmintonPhoto.