By Tejas Rane
They might be on the receiving end of ire from fans after all their public bickering, but India’s tennis players who are heading to London this month, still have a firm support in badminton player and fellow Olympian V Diju, who thinks that they can bring home gold for the country.
The 31-year-old Keralite badminton player will also soon be jetting off to London and he can’t wait to get into the groove of things. When asked who India’s best bet at the Olympics was, he replied, “Saina Nehwal is our best hope and also the Indian tennis players. Despite all the recent negativity, they can still bring home gold for India.”
Diju and his partner Jwala Gutta are currently ranked 13th but they can still cause an upset in the mixed doubles badminton category. Speaking to in.com over the phone, Diju sounded calm. “I’m in Hyderabad currently and there are no special preparations (for the London Olympics),” he said.
How will they take on competition in London? “We discuss our opponents and try to change our game accordingly. I think a flaw in our play is consistency, but not much else. I was part of the men’s doubles team earlier, but now my focus is only one thing and that is partnering Jwala Gutta. If we play well, we certainly do stand a good chance of clinching a medal. We’re aiming hard to reach the semi-finals.”
Does he feel bad that his partner gets more press than he does? Not at all, comes the pat answer. “It’s good for us both. We get the coverage and it gives us an added impetus,” he said.
Diju’s best show has been figuring in second place at the 2009 in the mixed doubles category at the World Super Series Masters in Malaysia. He was supported by Lakshya, a sports-based NGO, that helped him in his comeback bid after he suffered an injury to his back and also during the Olympic qualifying period. He and Gutta recently reached the the quarter-finals stage in the Singapore Open, but were defeated before they could progress further. Can he shine in London? Only time will tell!
Castle Avenue, Dublin ,5/23/2013, 15:15 (IST)
Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, Pune ,5/19/2013, 16:00 (IST)
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad ,5/19/2013, 20:00 (IST)
Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi ,5/21/2013, 20:00 (IST)
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