Carolina Marin took to the sport at the age of 12, later than most professional players. Until then, she had dreamt of becoming a Flamenco dancer and stumbled on to badminton during one innocuous visit to the courts. Today, at 22, she is the top-ranked woman in the world and the first Spanish national to do so. We take a look at how the girl from Huelva in Spain made it to badminton’s history books:
Marin is known for her steely focus and an unbridled determination to win right from her days competing in the Junior European Championships. Badminton is not a popular sport in Spain and a lack of quality practice partners has always been an issue. Instead of getting bogged down, she took to training sessions in countries like Thailand and Indonesia. With Fernando Rivas as coach, her overall game along with honing the tactical and mental aspects have taken Marin to a whole new level.
The Rivas Influence
Fernando Rivas has a different approach to coaching which involves the use of sports science and technology like use of video clips to improve his players. He was frowned upon initially for keeping away from the traditional (read: Chinese) methods of coaching which was previously in use in the country. After Carolina Marin’s success, he is being termed as an innovator and a master strategist who gives importance to developing more than just the physical aspect of the game.
Winning it All
Carolina Marin rose quickly through the junior ranks winning the European and World Championships. The rest of the world took notice of her after her winning the London Grand Prix Gold and Scottish Open in 2013. In 2014, she went on to win the European Championships, signalling her intention to fight for the major tournaments. Then came the moment of reckoning – a come-from-behind victory over then number one Li Xuerui in the World Championships that year showcased her insatiable hunger to win. Showing it was no fluke, she followed with another comeback win against Saina Nehwal to clinch the prestigious All England Championships. She successfully defended her Worlds crown in 2015 and has risen to number one in the rankings.
Carolina Marin has now become the woman to beat in badminton and her target of striking gold at the Olympics is looking more of a reality with each passing tournament.