How Carolina Marin Defeated Asia’s Badminton Domination | Game Breakers

History being made. The world number one. For the first time ever, we’ve got a Spanish player. Chinese players have been
dominant in this event. But no longer. Her speed of shot,
speed of movement. speed around the court… No other female athlete
from her country has ever won. The left-handed Spaniard… Carolina Marin. (GAME BREAKERS) (CAROLINA MARIN, SPAIN) (GOLD MEDAL, BADMINTON,
DOB 15 JUNE 1993) I am Carolina Marin. I am 24 years old
and I am from Huelva. I played badminton
for the first time when I was eight years old. When I got to the court
and saw the elongated racket, that sort of flounce
with feathers – I liked it a lot. And that’s where everything
started. After that, I got really
hooked on badminton. After two or three days,
she wanted a racket. “A racket?” Honestly,
we didn’t have any idea about what it was for,
how to use it or anything. What was that flounce
and the feathers? And her father didn’t know
either, I’m telling you. When I was 12 years old,
that’s when I had to choose between flamenco and
badminton. And I think it was very clear
to me because with badminton, I enjoyed myself and even
started to stand out. But it was difficult
to quit flamenco because I’ve danced
since I was three, since I was very little. And I’ve like it
my entire life. The day that I eventually
retire from badminton, I will start dancing again
because I love it. I went to watch her at
a 15-and-under tournament in Spain. At the match, I could see that
she was extraordinary, especially for
a 13-year-old Spaniard. And I emphasise that she
was Spanish because it is a significant fact. She was very fast and had
a lot of strength and power, but there were technical
details that needed to be worked on a lot because she did not move
that well on the court. But you could see that
she definitely had potential. I remember my first
conversation with my coach, Fernando.
He asked me, “What do you want to achieve
as a badminton player?” And I said that I wanted to be
the best out of everyone. European champion. World champion.
Olympic champion. And number one in the world. (IN 2007, CAROLINA MOVED TO
FERNANDO RIVAS) I come from a very
small city. When I came to Madrid
at age 14, the city felt so big to me –
it was overwhelming. It was a moment
I will never forget. And I will always be grateful
to my parents for that. because I am an only child. For my father, it was like,
how could his little girl go 600km away from home? I asked them to let me
have this opportunity, that it was once
in a lifetime. I wanted them
to let me go. On the way,
there were very few words. We were so nervous and the trip was
really, really hard. It’s much different for
a 14-year-old Olympic athlete in Spain than it is
for one in China. There is a lot more work to do because we don’t have as long of an Olympic tradition
in the sport. In Spain, we don’t have
a club system that helps players grow. And we do not have a system
competitive enough to properly challenge
all of the players. We need to be innovative
and dig deep within ourselves in order to make gains,
both as players and coaches. Fernando Rivas completely
changed my life. On top of being my coach, he has been like a father
to me. Having to come to Madrid
alone, without my family or friends, was a big change for me. Fernando was the person
who was always there for me. Man, Carolina to me,
has been like a daughter because she arrived
as a very innocent 14-year-old little girl. She was like a rebellious
teenager that I had to orientate and guide. And now, she is turning
into a woman with her very own clear
ideas about life. My daughter respects
Fernando so much, that what Fernando says
is like the law. I left my daughter
in his hands and, man, she is such a great woman. My first Olympic Games
as a coach was in Peking and it created a big change
in my life. It was such a big motivation
for me. And I remember that it
was a doubles match, the final match for doubles,
and it was a beautiful game. I was watching the game with
a friend and I said to him, “Being in a final
must be brutal. “I want to be
FEDERATION) People left the meeting
saying, “Fernando is crazy.
I mean, this is impossible. “We cannot win.
We are Spain.” But, so goes. I think that
it also motivated me. I have always been
very hard-headed and I have always like
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK) She’s done it! The European champion is now the World champion. And Carolina Marin is
overwhelmed by emotion. After she saluted the referees,
she starts coming over to me. And as she gets closer,
she tells me, “You are the best,
you are the best.” I tell her, “No, we are
the best. You have won.” (CAROLINA DEFENDED HER WORLD
WOMAN TO DO SO) To begin with, what we did
not do was to hide… ..we did not hide
our intentions to win. Being number one seed and
two-time champion of the world, it would be foolish to approach
the Olympic games and say, “I am just going to try best,”
or, “I am just going to try
to give it my all.” No. We came to win.
We came to win. And if we don’t win, we will
figure out why we didn’t. (CAROLINA FACED OFF AGAINST
Xuerui was great, except for the second set
in which she lost her focus. To my family – I love you!
Here we go, Spain! Let’s get a medal! The final was more or less
the same. She did have a little
distraction at the end of the first set, which she
thought she had under control. But then Sindhu started to
use the net more intelligently and Carolina got stuck there. I know that she is annoyed
because she has lost a set. Carolina lost the set herself.
Sindhu did not win it over her. She lost it because she
got distracted, lost focus, and forgot the game plan. I have to use empathy
in that moment. I cannot get angry. So, we opt to have a chat
in order to gain a bit more motivation, a more emotional chat
to remind her of her roots. I reminded her of when
she arrived to Madrid at 14 years old
and I told her… ..”Remember that little girl. “That little girl still
believes in you. “Don’t get yourself down. “Keep moving forward. You know
the game plan perfectly. “So, let’s get to it.” And she started winning
by 11-2. She just needed the
reassurance that she can win. That is utterly brilliant, guiding the shuttle
across court. That is perfect. And six match-point
opportunities to become the Olympic
champion. All of a sudden, the other
Spaniards who were there realised that we might do
something that no-one in our country has done
before, to do something that only
the Asians have done before. We could not sit down.
We were in our seats, but we could not sit. We were too nervous to sit. The last point was a… I have never seen
a tsunami. But they say that the sea
recedes so that the waves come in and destroy
everything. That’s what it felt like. Carolina Marin,
the European champion, the World champion,
and now, she is the Olympic champion. The enormity of what
she’s just achieved, the first ever gold
in the women’s singles to a European player. As Carolina Marin dissolves
into tears, the celebration with
her own coaches, Fernando Rivas, who has
masterminded her development into the world’s very,
very best player. History being made because,
for the first time ever, we’ve got a Spanish player. After winning the last point,
I fell to the ground and remembered all
of these difficult moments – training sessions that would
leave me crying, nights in which
I could not sleep because my body was
totally exhausted. When I was waiting to step up
onto the podium, the first thing that crossed
my mind was that I had finally achieved
my dream. But once I was on the podium,
I just wanted to enjoy myself. That was my moment,
my special moment. And I also have to think
about my family, who was there with me, and my coach who was
by my side. And in the end, we achieved
everything together as a team. It wasn’t only Carolina
who had to restructure her personal life in regards to
family, friends, studies, etc, to make it compatible
with her big dream. I also had to do it. There has been a lot of
collateral damage to my personal space
within my life. They are decisions that I have
made because I believed that what I had planned
was possible, but I believed that
an enormous sacrifice had to be made in order
to attain it. I’ll never forget the way my daughter was welcomed back
home. It was so emotional. There were so many there
to support her. Everyone was applauding
and cheering for her. This was an unforgettable
moment. The biggest honour that
Huelva gave my daughter was to name a sporting arena
after her. The Sports Palace
of Carolina Marin. It’s beautiful. In Spain, badminton is
recognised and respected a lot more now. The press, the media,
and even people in the street know what badminton is
and talk about it. It used to be only Asian
players in the top ten and there would be three
or four Chinese players in the top five. So, how would a European
player, let alone a Spaniard, even get there? And step by step,
Carolina started climbing and then she started winning. And now she is
the wall for Asia. We have been able to break
down barriers, doors, walls, and we have garnered respect
in the badminton world. Now, when we travel to Asia,
we are no longer the outsiders from Spain. Now, they respect us,
they acknowledge us. It is a good feeling. It has been difficult
to get here and maintaining it
has been hard. For me, it has been very
difficult trying to keep myself
emotionally focused on achieving the highest possible
level throughout the years. I think that for her,
on a physical, mental – almost every level –
it has been very hard. It’s been very difficult
because badminton has never been very popular
in Spain or even in Europe. And now the fact that a girl
from Huelva, from the outskirts
of Spain, can suddenly rise to be
the best in the world, I think that’s profound,
but also quite nice.