Cai Yun: ‘Olympic gold medal not a target anymore’

Donning Awadhe Warriors colours in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), the Chinese star, who combined with Fu Haifeng to claim all the important titles, feels that India has some fine singles players who can win Olympic medals in the Rio Games.

Awadhe Warriors' Cai Yun (front) and his partner Bodin Issara in action in a PBL match.   -  Nagara Gopal

Four-time World champion and reigning Olympic champion Cai Yun is a legend in men’s doubles badminton. Donning Awadhe Warriors colours in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), the Chinese star, who combined with Fu Haifeng to claim all the important titles, feels that India has some fine singles players who can win Olympic medals in the Rio Games.

Ahead of his team’s PBL semi-final clash against Mumbai Rockets, Cai Yun, who turns 36 next week, spoke to Sportstar. He gave an idea about how the PBL can make an impact on a shuttler’s game and touched upon a few other topics as well.

On his experience of playing in the PBL:

This is a very different experience. I can play with some great players from different countries and also can have different partners. From this I get to understand different ways of playing and training.

On whether he is keen to try and retain his Olympic gold medal in Rio:

At this moment the Olympic gold medal is not an important target for me anymore because I have already won all the championships. Now enjoying badminton is more important to me. In this trip to India, I am really happy that I can work together with all the players and coaches.

On his assessment of the Indian doubles players:

The Indian players have good skills but their speed and power have not reached a great level yet, especially the doubles. The movement to attack is still not fast and fierce enough and (there is) lack of focus on the game.

On Indian male or female players who have impressed him:

In our team, Sai Praneeth has played quite well in a few important matches. Among the females, I think Saina (Nehwal) and (P. V.) Sindhu are great players. They have the strength to fight and get a medal in the Olympics.

On emerging Chinese players:

In China there are many good players but they have not reached the top level yet. I think they need to work harder and not depend on the seniors’ results.