Sania Mirza yearns to heal Rio heartbreak at Tokyo Olympics

Sania Mirza and mixed-doubles partner Rohan Bopanna narrowly missed out on the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

By Utathya Nag

Indian tennis star Sania Mirza sees the Tokyo Olympics next year as an opportunity to make amends for Rio 2016.

The three-time Olympian narrowly missed out on a medal at the last Games, where along with Rohan Bopanna, she made it to the mixed doubles semi-finals but went down in the bronze medal match. It’s a result that has troubled her ever since.

“Losing in the Olympics in Rio was one of the most heartbreaking moments in my life, I didn't think I would play another Olympics,” she said during an interactive session on the Airbnb platform recently.

Sania Mirza hosted the virtual session as a part of the Summer Festival of Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences event. It was organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb.

The five-day online event features over a 100 Olympians and Paralympians hosting curated experiences for viewers. It includes sessions by Abhinav Bindra and Shiva Keshavan among others

Sania Mirza’s section was titled ‘Grand Slam inspired training regime with Sania’ while Abhinav Bindra’s session was with fellow Olympic champion Niccolo Campriani.

Sania Mirza – a rebel and believer

The 33-year-old Mirza, who was on a maternity break starting 2018 and made her comeback earlier this year, thinks that the Tokyo Olympics being deferred by a year gives her another shot at her unfulfilled dream – winning an Olympic medal.

“Definitely one-and-a-half years is pretty long, especially in an athlete’s life and we can’t stop age.

“But, I do feel it (Olympics in 2021) gives me an opportunity to win one medal. I will be 34 next year but honestly hopeful of another try,” she said.

Sania Mirza, over the years, has proved her doubters wrong repeatedly and believes that attitude will continue to aid in her pursuit for excellence on the tennis court going forward as well.

“I am sort of a rebel. If you say, I can’t do this or that, then I will be determined to do that. I always believed that I can be the best in whatever I do. That is not overconfidence but self-belief.”

Now a parent, Sania Mirza also touched upon what it took for her to come back to the game after the physical changes induced by pregnancy.

“Losing 26 kg of in four months after being blessed with a boy (Izhaan) was a different kind of challenge and I handled it with complete stubbornness. It showed me mental strength,” she said.

After making her comeback, Sania Mirza went on to win the Hobart International WTA doubles title back in January.

Terming it as one of the more special wins of her career, she said, “That win surprised many including myself. For sure it was a struggle to be there again in the competitive circuit

“I had to do a lot of juggling of roles - being a mother, wife, daughter, tennis player. I had to overcome physical adversity and also stay mentally focussed,” she pointed out.