24 March 17 The Straits Times by NICOLE CHIA
Carolina Marin has achieved all her sporting ambitions as listed on her profile page on the Badminton World Federation website - "Get a medal at the Olympic Games, be a World Champion and European Champion, and to become world No. 1."
Yet when asked if she has any other ambitions to seek, the 23-year-old's answer came without hesitation: "More."
Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday on the sidelines of the Primera Liga's launch of their regional hub office here, the Spaniard said: "(I just want) to get more and more - more tournaments and titles."
The world No. 4's pursuit of "more" will continue at next month's OUE Singapore Open at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
She was the top-ranked player at last year's edition, but fell to Japan's Akane Yamaguchi 13-21, 21-18, 21-18 in the quarter-finals.
Marin will enter this year's tournament as an Olympic champion, following her triumph at the 2016 Rio Games, yet insisted she feels no additional pressure as she bids to win her first Singapore Open crown.
"The pressure... it's about how you control it, so now I don't feel any pressure because there are top players coming," she said.
"Any of the top 10 players in the world rankings can win this tournament; I'll just prepare myself in the best way I can and do my best on court."
The women's singles field at the Singapore Open features a strong slate with the likes of world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei and No. 2 Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea - formidable roadblocks along Marin's route to the title.
Marin, who won the World Championships in 2014 and 2015, shies away from naming her strongest competitors, saying: "I always say that the biggest opponent is myself because I know if I do my best, I can be a really tough opponent for everyone."
With this assessment of herself, it is little wonder that the Huelva native's idol is tennis star and compatriot Rafael Nadal, who is deemed by his rivals as one of the sport's toughest competitors thanks to his relentless counter-punching style and sheer mental strength .
While Marin and Nadal have plenty in common - both are Olympic champions, for one - they differ in football allegiances: the latter is a Real Madrid fan, while Marin supports their bitter rivals, FC Barcelona.
"For me the best football player is (Barcelona midfielder Andres) Iniesta, because I like his personality. He seems like a very humble and nice person," she added.
"I haven't met him face-to-face, but I've seen how he talks from social media and watched how he plays - I really like him."
While badminton is not as popular as football and tennis in Spain, Marin is viewed as a trail blazer in her country, and believes the sport will grow in time.
Referring to her Olympic victory, she added: "Now in Spain everyone recognises me and I feel very happy because everyone in Spain knows about badminton, so I feel like a lucky person to (be able to) show the sport to my country.
"I hope there will be more champions from Spain."