I can’t believe it’s already been five years – a wonderful, wonderful journey that I never expected. My life changed a lot after that silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
When I think about the past, it was something new. Expectations are much more now to give my best and keep my focus. Since then, my game has improved a lot and I learned a lot of things.
The best part of Rio was obviously getting a medal for the country and standing on the podium. Nothing can beat that or be as good as that. I was on cloud nine. This achievement has taken some time. After that, I gained a lot of confidence and motivation in terms of the game, on and off the field.
That was my first Olympics, so I didn’t know how and what it would be. The environment was very different. I met a couple of athletes from other disciplines earlier and it was nice to interact with them at Game Village. It was nice to play against some of the top players later in my major.
I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere. But again, once I got back in the room, the focus was on my game and how I should give my best.
In the final, it was everyone’s match. I was leading 11-10 in the decider when Carolina Marin got a few points and led overall to snatch the gold.
At the end of it, one player must win and the other lose. You handled it in a very positive way. I had to be happy. Yes, if you lose, you will be upset. But the feeling I had when I was standing on the podium was different – I won the silver and I didn’t lose the gold!
There were no excuses. We have enough time to recover. Every draw was important since the first round and the win over Michelle Lee in the preliminary stage was the most defining moment when I look back because it gave me the momentum and confidence needed. This was evident in the way she beat some of the big names like Tai Tzu-ying, Wang Yihan and Nozomi Okuhara before losing to Marin.
I’m looking forward to changing the color of the medal in Tokyo. I’m working hard and I hope to come back with a gold medal.
As told to VV Subrahmanyam