India’s doubles specialist shuttler N. Sikki Reddy feels that the Asian Games later this year will see a much tougher competition than the recent Commonwealth Games and it would need a couple of upsets to take her to medal bracket at the continental multi-sporting showpiece.
“The competition in Asian Games will be tougher. We will need to create a couple of upsets to win a medal. Japan and China are very strong. The remaining other countries, if we can play at 110 per cent, we can surprise them and put them under pressure,” Sikki told PTI .
The Asian Games will be held from August 18 to September 2 in Indonesia.
The 24-year-old Sikki bagged a mixed team gold and a bronze in women’s doubles with Ashwini Ponnappa at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last month and her performance fetched her a recommendation for Arjuna Award.
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“I think I deserve the award and I really hope I get it this time. I was recommended last year also but no one in badminton was awarded, so I am hoping I get it this time,” she said.
In her maiden Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Sikki played in two events — women’s doubles with Ashwini and mixed doubles with Pranaav Jerry Chopra.
“It was my first commonwealth Games, so it was special. CWG has a different feeling, there is pressure as it comes in four years and winning a historic team gold and a bronze in doubles really made me feel pride,” she said.
“We had to make sure we were alright as we were playing everyday, so the support staff did a great job in our recovery, we had to take massage and ice bath and all.”
Her journey to glory has not been an easy one as four knee surgeries had almost ended her career before it could properly take off. She had to give up singles but a never-say-die attitude saw her pick up doubles and represent India at the highest level.
“I feel sad that I had to give up singles because at that time I was on top of my game. I know injuries are part of a sportsperson’s life but unfortunately I had four surgeries in the same knee. I was told to stop as otherwise I would have arthritis in future. I loved playing badminton and so I shifted to doubles,” she said.
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“It was a big step. I hardly started playing doubles in the last four years and I didn’t have partners of my age group. Every one think it is easy playing doubles but it is tougher, it is way more faster and agility wise also it is tough. If you start at 14-15 years then it is different but I started playing at 19-20. So it was very tough to overcome all that.”
Sikki and Ashwini are now ranked 25th, while Sikki and Pranaav are currently World No. 24th.
Asked if they have any ranking targets, Sikki said: “Ranking goes up and down according to performance. We are consistently inside the top 20 but we have to consistently win and make life difficult for our opponents.”
On the Uber Cup, Sikki said: “We have won bronze in two editions but we would be the underdogs in the tournament.”