One of many Indian debutants to feature at the Rio Olympics, Kidambi Srikanth has a huge responsibility on his shoulders as he carries the Indian Men’s Singles hope. With India missing the experience of Parupalli Kashyap, Srikanth will need to be on top of his game to ensure he betters the former’s performance from London 2012 and ahead of his maiden appearance in Rio, the Guntur-born shuttler spoke to Sportskeeda on his preparations, expectations and more.
Q:How satisfied are you with your preparations for Rio with just over 20 days to go?
A: I have been playing back-to-back tournaments since the start of the year! Hence, I didn’t get a lot of time to focus on reducing the gaps in my performances. Since last month however, I have had a good time to assess my performances and push myself harder in training. I am a lot more confident now.
I have been doing the same things I usually do in training, but have been more diligent. I am working across all areas of my game, but endurance and accuracy are my two focus areas. I have been practising the same stroke, the same smash until I get it right. My movement which is an important factor to get the right stroke is another area I need to improve. Everything I do before making contact with the shuttle is interlinked towards getting that perfect stroke.
Q: You didn't participate in the Thomas and Uber Cup in May but your performance in the Australian Open Superseries(reaching the semifinals) must have certainly boosted your confidence. Thoughts on your performance there?
A: I haven’t had a good season this year in spite of Gold at the Syed Modi GP in January. Having not been able to make my way past the initial rounds at tournaments was starting to play on my mind a little. My run in the Australian Open Superseries definitely got back some of that lost confidence, coming closer to Rio 2016. My quarter-final match against Kwang Ho Heo tested me to my limit so hence overcoming that gave me tremendous self-belief. Performing well in this tournament before going into my final period of training will really help me and I hope that I can prove that in Rio.
Q: Ahead of the Olympics, are you looking to focus on simulating match situations in your training centre and how much work have you been putting on the mental aspect of your play?
A: We are trying to do that but match condition are not so easy to stimulate on a regular basis. The amount of pressure you feel during a match is different from the match in training. I am trying to improve my concentration during the match. I hope that will play a big role and help me to pull out some close matches.
Q: Pullela Gopichand, the chief coach has participated in two Olympics before. Have you had a chance to ask him about the whole Olympic experience?
A: We didn't get to talk specifically about the Olympics but he's been very supportive and been telling me about his experiences. He has also given me extensive inputs on how to get me self-prepared before the match.
Q:What are your personal expectations from Rio 2016?
A: My main aim for Rio 2016 is to give my best. Our coach Pullela Gopichand believes that it is all about doing well in the few games which matter. Maintaining my concentration in every situation…and condition will play a major role in my performance. Pressure can affect the best of players, so I aim to prepare well and give it my best shot. I believe that we have a good chance to win something for Team India.
Q:Finally, apart from badminton, which are the other sports do you think where India has a chance to win medals at Rio 2016?
A: Apart from Badminton, I believe our shooters have a great chance of winning medals for us because of the quality we have on the contingent. A lot of the shooters have been performing exceeding well. My hopes are pinned on Olympic Gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, who is also on the Advisory Board of the GoSports Foundation, the NGO which has been supporting me since 2012.