Ratchanok Intanon said she needs to be more focused and not allow outside things to affect her    Getty Images
Ratchanok Intanon said she needs to be more focused and not allow outside things to affect her Getty Images

New Delhi: Heartbroken after missing out an Olympic medal in London, a more experienced Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand is now looking for redemption at Rio Games, but said she needs to be more focused to achieve her dream of winning a medal in August. “Many people have asked me what has been the most sad moment of my life. I say it was the London Olympics. I was 16 then and I defeated Juliane Schenk and then when I played the quarterfinals against Wang Xin, I kept thinking I can reach the semifinals. Then I felt tired in the decider,” she said.

“I felt too excited and then I started thinking I can’t play like her. I started thinking that my fitness was not good and lost. I was sad and then my coach told me that even Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei also didn’t win the first time at Olympics and I don’t have to be sad and just have to be positive.” At 2012 London Olympics, Ratchanok defeated Schenk of Germany in the round of 16 but in the quarter-final match against Wang Xin, despite leading 21 17 and 16-9 in the second game, she failed to close the match and eventually lost 21 17, 18 21, 14 21.

Set to carry the hopes of her nation come August, Ratchanok said: “I have to be more focused and not allow outside things to affect me. I have to keep training harder. I think I’m more comfortable with my game and I am more experienced this year. “After the super series events, I have to be more relaxed, enjoy the moment and get mind off everything. Because it is becomes difficult when it becomes like every morning just training and play game and thinking about Olympics. It can get boring to train all the time.”

Asked about the current competition level of women’s singles in world badminton, Ratchanok said: “I think women’s singles has become more exciting now because in top 16, anybody can beat anybody so it has become more open. Even the younger players can beat the top players. Every tournament I feel like the opponents change their style so I have to improve my game also. I try to learn and push myself to put more power in my smashes. I don’t know if I have changed my game much but I feel I need not worry much,” she said.

At 18, Ratchanok had become the youngest singles World Champion ever after she won the title in 2013, but a series of injuries affected her performance. “I think actually the injury was not too serious but it was too much thinking and worrying about things like I’m not able to reach my target that affected me. It requires a lot of strength to make a comeback,” said the Thai girl, who has reached her second final at the India Open Super Series.

The 21-year-old said she is working with a fitness trainer to grow more muscles. “Over the years, the game has also changed. It has become more power oriented, so you need to build more muscles to deal with it,” she said. “When I was young, I started off with the basics. My coach taught me how to play it beautifully. Now I’m putting more gym work to build more muscle. Earlier I didn’t have fitness trainer. I used to do it normally but now I have a trainer so he knows how to deal with the weak areas.”

Talking about a phase in 2013 when she felt burdened by the pressure of expectation after winning the World Championship, Ratchanok said: “After I won the World Champion, there were others who wanted to beat me so there was more pressure on me to perform. Also my country has expectations from me. They want me to be a champion in every super series tournament. So sometimes, I used to think why me? But then I thought, if I can just do my best, it will be good for me. I think I have to not take things too seriously and just learn from the matches every time I lose and win more to gain experience,” she added.