V Diju is part of the pair which won India’s first ever medal at the Badminton World Championships.
Now, the shuttler from Kerala wants to shine at the biggest stage of them all.
His combination with Jwala Gutta has the potential to go a long way at the London Olympics.
“It will be my first Olympic Games and it is a very exciting time for me,” Diju told MAIL TODAY on Sunday.
He is one of five Indian shuttlers to have qualified for the Olympics.
Apart from him and Jwala, women’s doubles player Ashwini Ponnappa and singles players Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap will be seen in action at the London Games.
Diju is satisfied with the pair’s form and recent results.
“We made the quarter-finals and semi-finals in the last few events. In our last tournament, the Singapore Open, we reached the last four.” The Jwala-Diju combination has been together for five years now and they have developed an effective rapport.
“In most of the top mixed doubles pairings, the woman player is at the net while the man plays from the back of the court. Jwala is very good with her net play,” Diju said.
The pair won a bronze medal at the 2010 World Championships and after their spectacular run, the other teams will be keeping an eye on them.
“We know the other combinations will be wary of us. We have also improved over the last couple of years. The Danish and Chinese teams will be our toughest challengers in London."
“But we are familiar with the Wembley Arena, where the badminton competition will be held. It is a good court and we don’t need to make any special preparation for the venue,” Diju said.
The badminton events at the Olympics will start on July 29.
He will reach London six days before that.
“We need to win three matches for a medal and will have to beat some higher-ranked teams. But we are targeting a podium finish.”
Diju has made a remarkable recovery after a serious back injury that required surgery.
“I went under the knife in April 2011 and was out of action for five months. But now I am back to my best,” he said.
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