Carolina Marin: The empress of badminton who has won it all

Carolina Marin has a fantastic record in Badminton and she is the only player who has broken the Asian domination of the sport in the last couple of years.

Carolina Marin in a file photo. (Image credit: Twitter)

On August 19, 2016, PV Sindhu was on the cusp of something special. The Hyderabad shuttler had already created history in the Rio Olympics as she bettered Saina Nehwal’s mark to at least assure herself of a silver. In the summit clash, she was facing Spain’s Carolina Marin. The fact that her opponent was a left-hander, a European who had broken the Asian domination made this match historic. For the first time after three decades, China was not on the top step of the podium. Sindhu came one step closer to glory by winning the first game 21-19. The celebrations were about to erupt in India.

However, the Spaniard refused to give up. She won the next game in commanding fashion 21-12. In the third game, with everything on the line, the pressure was immense. Sindhu squandered the opportunity and Carolina Marin won the gold medal in fine style. On August 19, India and the rest of the badminton world finally realised the prowess of Marin in the sport.

The supremacy of Carolina Marin

Before her win over Sindhu, Marin was already one of the behemoths. But, initially, the Spaniard was not too keen on badminton. She had begun her career in the small town of Huelva near Seville as a Flamenco dancer. Flamenco is one of the popular dance forms in Spain. Her passion for Flamenco dipped when she saw her childhood friend playing badminton. Her interest and passion developed. Carolina Marin was totally hooked to the sport.

But, there were some prices to be paid. She had to leave her home in Huelva at a very young age as there were not manyfacilities. Having started at the age of eight, Marin went 612 kms away to stay in Madrid and hone her badminton skills. It was the national centre in Madrid that helped Marin become the world-beater that she was.

Success in Europe

Marin became the first Spanish badminton player to win a silver medal first, at the European Junior Championships, and also at the same year, won the gold medal at the European U-17 Junior Championships. There would be more glory for Marin in the coming years. In 2013, she became the first Spanish badminton player to win a Grand Prix Gold title after winning the London Grand Prix Gold. In August, Marín played for the Bangalore-based team Banga Beats in the inaugural edition of the Indian Badminton League (IBL).

Marin achieved her first major world success in the sport in 2014. In August that year, she defeated Li Xuerui of China in the World Championships women’s singles final. Marin became the first Spaniard to win a World Championship title and only the third European female player to achieve the feat. 

But, 2015 would prove to be a golden year in more ways than one. The glory of 2015 would culminate in the success of 2016.

Carolina Marin’s golden 2015 to 2016

In 2015, Marin won the All England Open, her first Superseries Premier title after defeating Saina Nehwal in the final with score 16-21, 21-14, 21-7. The title propelled her to rank number 4 in the world ranking and, for the first time, no. 1 in the Superseries standing. At  the India Open, she had the chance to unseat Li Xuerui as the new world no. 1. However, Marin narrowly lost to Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in a close three games at the semi-finals stage. She rose to a career-high as world no. 2 in the world ranking.

On 5 April, Marin won her second straight Superseries Premier title, beating Olympic champion Li Xuerui for the second consecutive time at the 2015 Malaysia Open in a tense match. In August, she defended her title at the World Championship by beating Saina Nehwal of India in 21-16, 21-19. In addition to defending the World Championships title, she also won other Superseries titles such as the Australian Open, French Open, and Hong Kong Open.

The 2016 victory in Rio propelled her to superstardom as well as a surge in badminton popularity in Spain. The indoor arena in her hometown of Huelva is named after her for the achievement.

Injuries in later years but still a dominant force

Marin continued her domination in 2018. The Spaniard won World Championships by defeating Sindhu in straight games 21-19, 21-10, making her the first female player in history to win three World Championships title.

However, an ACL injury during the Indonesian Masters stalled her progress. She underwent the ACL reconstruction surgery as soon and was out for eight months. She had a recovery for four months, dedicate 10 hours a day to rehabilitation between the physical and technical, with morning and afternoon physiotherapy sessions, and swimming pool work. After her return, she won the China Open.

However, her return has been marred by losses in the knockout stages. She lost in the final of the Denmark Open and French Open. Despite winning the Syed Modi and Italian International, Marin lost in the semi-finals of the Thailand Masters, Barcelona Masters and All England Open to Tai Tzu-Ying, Akane Yamaguchi and Pornpawwee Chochuwong respectively. 

In the final of the Denmark Open, she was defeated by Nozomi Okuhara. Before the tournament, she had lost her father to a car accident in early February 

The legend of Carolina Marin

In 2021, her form shows no signs of abating. Marin won the first title of the year which was the Thailand Open Super 1000 event with a win over Tai Tzu-Ying in two comfortable games. Continuing her scintillating form, she won the second edition of Thailand Open, the Toyota Thailand Open, also a super 1000 event by beating Tai Tzu-Ying again. In her first ever World Tour Finals, she stumbled to Tai Tzu-ying in three games after failing to capitalize her lead in the final game.

She won her first world tour title in Switzerland by beating reigning World champion Sindhu with a very dominating display, winning 21-12, 21-5.

With all the accolades at the age of 28, Marin has shown that she has nothing to prove. Her legacy in badminton has been established. It is a tribute to her determination and brilliance that Marin has established herself as the ’empress of badminton’.

Sportslumo Desk

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