Indian badminton star P.V. Sindhu has wished her Spanish rival and friend Carolina Marín well after the latter was forced to pull out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.
Marin, the reigning Olympic champion, suffered the injury in training on Friday (28 May). The extent of the injury – suffering tears to both menisci and her left knee ACL – was confirmed yesterday (1 June).
Sindhu, who lost to Marín in the Rio 2016 final, told Marín in a specially-recorded video message: "So sorry to hear about your injury. Hoping that you will recover soon and come back stronger."
The Indian recalled her epic gold-medal match from Rio 2016 against the Spaniard, who became the first non-Asian Olympic women's singles champion as a result of that duel.
"I remember the last Olympic Games when we played in the final," Sindhu said.
"It was really good competing against you so I'm going to miss that again, and I will be missing you, seeing you on court.
"I will miss you at the Olympic Games but hope we compete against each other soon, so come back fast and recover soon. Lots of love."
Speaking to the Times of India, Sindhu said despite lockdown and the Covid-19 situation in India, she has been able to keep up her training ahead of the Games.
"Even when there was a complete lockdown, the central and state governments, SAI (Sports Authority of India), badminton associations provided support to athletes.
"Personally, whatever I asked from them, be it training with my coach Park (Tae-Sang) at the Gachibowli stadium (in Hyderabad), I was accorded permission," she said.
"Gachibowli stadium gives you the feeling of an international level arena, it's that big in terms of its size. Because the badminton events in the Olympics will be played in bigger stadiums in Japan, we need to simulate match situations at home to understand how to control the shuttle and its flight.
"The training in Gachibowli has offered me a good sense of a badminton Olympic venue and it will definitely help during my matches."
Two of her teammates, Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal, have failed to qualify for the Games due to changes in the qualifying cycle and lack of tournaments.
However, Sindhu sympathised with all sides given the extenuating circumstances.
"It's not only about us, but for all other badminton players who couldn't qualify. Nobody had expected this pandemic to happen and tournaments to get cancelled. It's the new normal and we need to get used to it," she said.
"Saina and Srikanth's rankings were such and then their tournaments got cancelled. If they had played in a couple of tournaments, they would have been closer to qualifying.
"The pandemic has left us with very few choices."