A left-handed, racket-wielding Spaniard has been in the news recently for all the right reasons. Winning trophies, being the top-seed, defeating the best in the business, this southpaw has done it all. And it’s not Rafael Nadal. We’re referring to another champion who plays another racket sport and responds to the name, Carolina Marin.
Spain gets its badminton star
A country that is going through one of its best phases of sporting history with the likes of Rafael Nadal (tennis), Fernando Alonso (F1) and the Spanish football team becoming world beaters in their respective sports in the last decade or so, not to forget victories for Óscar Pereiro, Alberto Contador and Carlos Sastre in Tour de France — Spain can add one more sporting hero to that bracket: Carolina Marin. In a country that is crazy about its football, badminton comes way below in the pecking order of the most popular sports, primarily because no known name had risen out of Spain that would set the world alight with his or her badminton exploits. Yet, one young girl decided to take the racket and show Spain and the world that she had what it takes to be among the very best in the business. Today, if Spaniards are taking interest in the racket-and-shuttle sport, it is because of what Carolina Marin has achieved in the last couple of years.
Picking the sport by chance
Such was the popularity, or the lack of it, of badminton in Spain that Carolina incidentally did not even know that such a sport was in existence. Hailing from the Andalusian coastal city of Huelva in southern Spain, the home of Flamenco — a type of Spanish folk music and dance, it was only natural for a girl from that region to pick up on the dance form and aim to be a professional at that. Carolina’s future though would take a totally different route. She would give up her dancing shoes for her sports shoes soon, as soon as she started playing badminton. It was merely a chance walk onto a badminton court with a friend that would change her destiny, and possibly that of her country.