Srikanth: 'I'm ready for the big challenge ahead'

India's No. 1 men's singles badminton player Kidambi Srikanth has said he was ready for the big challenge in the upcoming Olympics, and that his preparations for the mega event had been 'really good'.

Kidambi Srikanth..."Anything can happen and all I can say is that the Olympic preparations have been really good. "   -  Nagara Gopal

Badminton star Kidambi Srikanth has said performances in the run-up to the Rio Olympics was only 'history' and the winning of major titles had no bearing on the tough task at the mega event.

"What is important is how well you are prepared for the big Games as what has happened in the past is history. The focus has to be on the big task ahead," the champion shuttler says hours before leaving for Rio along with his other teammates.

"I am glad that ever since that impressive showing in the 2016 Australian Open (where he had lost in the semifinal), thanks to our coach Gopi Sir we have been really working hard on fine-tuning many aspects of the game. I am ready for the big challenge ahead," the 23-year-old Srikanth said on the sidelines of the launch of the Let's Shuttle corporate badminton tournament at Gopi Chand Academy on Tuesday.

Srikanth said the Olympics was different from the Super Series badminton tournaments in that one tended to play for oneself in the latter. Representing one's country had bigger meaning in the Olympics. "The country's pride and prestige are factors which should spur you to come up with a special performance," he says.

'You can't have choices'

"I believe that my aggression is the strong point even as I am aware that I have to be consistent right through the Games to win an Olympic medal," Srikanth pointed out. "I have a fairly good draw as in the league phase I will be facing Honri Hurskainen and then run into Sweden's World No. 5 Jan O Jorgensen in the next phase of the event. Well, you have to be ready to take on any one at this level. You can't have choices," the confident shuttler remarked.

Srikanth, the World No. 11, is conscious of the fact that since his sensational win over five-time world champion Lin Dan in the 2014 China Masters Open, he has never really set the circuit on fire. "Yes. But again, it is not just because I was not playing well. You need a little bit of luck in some big games," he said.

"Anything can happen and all I can say is that the Olympic preparations have been really good. I am not feeling any kind of pressure ahead of my first Olympics. I deem it a privilege and a great honour. And even the fact that I lead the men's challenge is another factor which might just spur me to step into a different zone," he explained. "For sure, it is time to deliver," Srikanth signed off.