It’s like she had never left. Spain’s Carolina Marin is once again the toast of badminton.
Not just for her stunning win at the VICTOR China Open 2019 in Changzhou today – almost eight months after injuring her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee at the DAIHATSU Indonesia Masters in January.
But for her incredible feat of returning to the winner’s circle just two weeks into her comeback. The Rio 2016 Olympic champion broke down in tears immediately after sealing the 14-21 21-17 21-18 victory over Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in the final of the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 event.
“It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t imagine during my rehabilitation that I could win in my second tournament back.
“But I did and I feel so happy with myself.”
It was only last week on 10 September that she played a nervous and tentative opening round match at the Vietnam Open as she eased her way back into competitive play. There was no pride lost in the defeat.
Today though she surprised the entire badminton world, not least herself, by defending her China Open crown and securing her first title exactly a year to the day she last tasted success on the World Tour.
Most had thought it would take some months until we saw the best of Marin again. But it’s clear the 26-year-old has come back stronger, fitter and more skilful as ever. Even her vanquished opponent Tai noticed that the Spaniard had improved.
“I feel she is more skilful now. I noticed that she maintained her speed in every match. She is also much better at the net and has more variety of shots,” said Tai.
It’s a warning sign to the rest of the world’s top 10. How much better can she get with more time on court? Only time will tell.
Marin left Changzhou immediately following her win to catch a flight to Seoul where she will contest the Korea Open 2019 starting Tuesday. She also has potential tournaments in Netherlands, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India and China to close out the season.
Having first doubted whether she would ever make it back in time to earn enough points to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Marin knows she now has the confidence both physically and mentally to perhaps defend her Olympic title come August next year in Tokyo.