India’s men’s doubles badminton player Satwiksairaj Rankireddy is excited to play his maiden Olympics scheduled to be held from July 23. The 20-year-old lad from Amalapuram has come a long way. Terming his maiden appearance in Olympics as a dream come true, the lanky shuttler is determined to give his best to return with a medal for the country. Though clubbed with top pairs in Group A in the Tokyo Olympics, Satwik says he and his partner Chirag Shetty are confident of causing an upset. He shares more in an interview with Telangana Today.
On playing in their maiden Olympics
I am very excited. Waiting to go there and take pictures at the Olympic rings. It’s been a long journey to reach here. Whenever someone asked me when I started playing about my dream, I always told them that I wanted to play in the Olympics. When I was playing in juniors, I dreamt about it. Coach Tan (Kim Her) made a big difference for me personally. He changed the way I think. He made us play many international tournaments. He paired me with Chirag. He made us believe that we can be the best in the world.
On the draw at Olympics
In a way, I am happy that we are in this (with World No.1 and 33) draw as we get to play top games on Olympic stage. Playing against strong contenders is a good challenge. It’s been long since we played high-quality games and we get to learn from these tough games. They will be under pressure because they are ranked high. We are underdogs so there is no pressure on us. Anything can happen in our group as any team can beat anyone.
On preparations ahead of the Games
We have been working very hard. We were trying a few things in our game. We have been playing matches since the last two months so that we will get that match practice. Playing at a big stadium like Gachibowli will help us as we will get to know the drift and conditions.
On no crowd and life in bio-bubble
This has been the case in the last six months. It was travelling to a hotel and to the stadium. At All England, even our contingent is not allowed for the matches. If we get at least that support from our Indian continent it would be better as it would motivate us.
On not playing many tournaments recently
All England in March was the last tournament we played. But it is the same with others too. But we have been practicing hard and playing more matches in training now to get used to the match situations.
On new coach Mathias Boe
When Mathias Boe came in February, we didn’t have time to try different styles of games for Swiss Open. But after that we got a lot of time to work with him. He changed our game a bit. He said ‘I can’t promise you medals right now but I will make you one of the best pairs in the world before I go.’ Now we can see that we are playing much better as a pair. His experience is an added advantage.
On partnership with Chirag since 2015
We are a much improved pair now. Boe told us the importance of communication. We were communicating before as well, but that improved a lot because of him. Trusting your partner is more important that we realised because of him. Boe told me to trust my partner and play my strokes confidently. We can see our game improving a lot in these two, three months. We know each other much better and now we are at our best in terms of our game.
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