Half-an-hour late, but worth a wait! The Conference Room No 4 was, that presented a forlorn look all through the day, was buzzing with activity with scores of cameramen and journalists thronging the area. All patiently waiting, and silently of course, as if watching a tennis match at the Main Press Centre on Wednesday. Waiting for one man — Rafael Nadal, who walked in first with his nonchalant swagger adorning gold and maroon colours of Spain.
“I am proud of playing for my country,” he said, pride written over each of those words.
Nadal reached Beijing on Tuesday and given the man he is (a very down-to-earth) chose to stay with the Spanish team at the Games Village.
“It’s a great feeling to stay at the Games Village and see some star athletes,” he said. “That’s how the Olympics is different. Because here I am staying with my Spanish team. It’s a marvellous experience.”
Though he has to wait till August 18 to get officially crowned the World No 1 tennis player, he does not mind it. “It’s a great feeling. I have been working towards it for years and finally when I achieve it there’s no time to feel it. I have to get ready for the Beijing Games and I am totally focussed on making this a Grand year,” he said in Spanish with a smile.
Head coach Emelio-Sanchez Vacario believed his team, that includes stars like Tommy Robredo (Nadal’s doubles partner here), David Ferrer and Cara Saurez, should help Spain improve on its overall standing than Athens. “We should do well and win a few medals and take Spain up the medal’s table,” he said.
Nadal fans in Indian contingent
Avneet Kaur Sidhu was star-struck on Tuesday night. No, she was not counting the stars. She saw Nadal in the dining hall. “Anjali (Bhagwat) and I went for dinner yesterday evening and suddenly I saw Rafa. I am a huge fan of his and I could feel butterflies in my stomach,” said Avneet after a practice session on Wednesday at the shooting ranges. “I would have loved to have my photograph clicked with him but unfortunately I wasn’t carrying a camera,” she said rather coyly. “If I get time I will try and watch his game here.”
On her own form, Avneet said: “I am not been doing well after qualifying for the Games. I hope to get back my form here at the Olympics.”
This is her third Olympics but she is yet to win a medal. But this time around she hopes to do well. “Hopefully I get third-time lucky,” she said. “I have been waiting for my day at the Olympics. Hopefully this should be the moment. I have been doing well in practice and am well prepared. But everything depends on how I shoot on that particular day.”