Badminton: Marin on comeback trail after dashed Olympic dreams

Carolina Marin beat China's He Bingjiao 22-20. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - A horror injury wrecked Carolina Marin's Tokyo Olympics dream but now the Spanish badminton star is aiming for a record fourth world title and gold at the 2024 Paris Games.

Marin was the hot favourite for the Tokyo title last year until a knee injury in May forced her to miss not just the Olympics but also the World Championships in her home town of Huelva five months later.

The 29-year-old returned to action in May this year and she is making up for lost time at the World Championships in Tokyo this week.

Marin staved off four match points to book her place in the quarter-finals with a 16-21, 21-15, 22-20 win over China's He Bingjiao on Thursday (Aug 25), letting out a wild scream of celebration after sealing the deal.

She insisted a record fourth world title was not at the forefront of her mind but said her win over He gave her the "self-confidence to face other top players".

"I don't want to think about the title every day because this is something that is going to happen only on Sunday when you win the last game," she told AFP after setting up a blockbuster quarter-final against top seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan.

"I want to push myself as far as I can. I want to give my best in every game that I have to play here and of course I'm looking forward to playing another quarter-final."

The anterior cruciate ligament knee tear Marin suffered last year came just two years after she ruptured the ACL in her other knee - an injury that kept her out for eight months of 2019.

She said her two injuries were "really tough for the body but mainly mentally" adding that the thought of winning Olympic gold in 2024 had kept her going.

"When I broke my second knee, something that motivated me was that I couldn't win in Tokyo so I wanted to win the gold medal in Paris," said Marin, the 2016 Olympic champion.

"I don't want to put pressure on myself to keep this kind of goal in my mind. This is something that is going to happen in two years but it's something that sometimes motivates yourself."

Marin is conscious that, at 29, she is "not as young as the other players" and is wary of overloading her schedule.

"Now I am in the moment to really care about my body," she said.

"We need to keep focusing on what tournaments I should play because to have two serious injuries is really easy to say but really hard to feel."

Marin's resolve will be tested fully when she faces world No. 1 and home crowd favourite Yamaguchi for a place in the last four.

"To be away for more than one year, not playing these kinds of games against top players, sometimes your confidence is not really high," she said.

"But today, to get this victory gives me some confidence, for sure."

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