Srikanth: Lee and Lin will be fierce competitors at Olympics

"Lee Chong Wei knows how to get back. Praneeth played well and defeated him but you can’t really keep them down. Even Lin Dan lost in a few events but he came back to win the All England."

K. Srikanth is the defeding champion at the India Open.   -  Nagara Gopal

With three Olympic titles under their belts, old warhorses Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and China’s Lin Dan have the treasure trove of experience and will be fierce competitors at the Rio Games, feels India’s Olympic hopeful Kidambi Srikanth.

A two-time silver medallist at the Olympics, Lee Chong Wei was out of action for eight months after failing a dope test but he quickly put the issue behind by winning the French Open, China Open and Hong Kong Open last year.

Five-time All-England champion Lin Dan also had been off the circuit after winning his second gold at 2012 London Olympics. However, he came back to win the 2012 World Championship as a wild card and then went for a hiatus for another seven months before making a comeback in 2014. His only title last year was the Japan Open, while this year, he clinched the German Open and All England.

“Lee Chong Wei has been there as the World No 1 for so many years. He has been consistent. He knows how to get back. Praneeth played well and defeated Lee Chong Wei but you can’t really keep them down. Even Lin Dan lost in a few events but he came back to win the All England,” said Srikanth.

“Olympics is such a nervous event since it comes every years, you know if you miss once then you don’t know if you will be there after four years."

“Badminton is a sport where you can get injured frequently and you can’t play all events. They are some who have played three Olympics and their experience teaches them how to manage things and make a comeback. So anything can happen at the Olympics,” he explained.

Srikanth will carry India’s hopes at Olympics and said even though he has already qualified he does not want to take it easy.

“We want to definitely try and look to play consistently," he said. "That’s how you get into the Olympics. I will be playing in Malaysia and Singapore but I am not sure about the China Open."

The World No. 10 is aware of his inconsistent form but he is satisfied with his overall game and remains confident of defending his men’s singles title at the India Open Super Series starting with the qualifiers tomorrow.

“The last four five months have been good. I played the semis and quarter-finals and I am happy with the way I am playing even though I lost a few matches. It is not that I am not satisfied. If I feel I am doing well, I can do anything."

“There is always pressure when we play for India and being the defending champion there is extra pressure for sure but you get so much support here. I have played so many tournaments here. So I am used to playing at home. I want to take this pressure as an extra inspiration to do well,” he added.