Chetan Anand clings to slim hope of Olympic berth
National badminton Champion Chetan Anand knows his chances of qualifying for the Beijing Olympics are rather slim. Yet he is hoping for a miracle to happen in the last two qualifying tournaments before the cut-off date for Olympic berths.
In the meantime, he believes that he is the best shuttler in the country.
"I have been performing quite well recently. I am happy with my recent performance in the European circuit. I lost to Athens Olympic silver medallist Seung Mo Shon in the All England qualifiers. In the Swiss Open, I had to play back-to-back tough three-setter matches. So I ran out of steam in the second round," Chetan told IANS.
"In the National Championship I proved that I am the best in the country, regardless of my world ranking. Anup (Sridhar) and Arvind (Bhat) might be ahead of me in world rankings but in the recent past I have never lost to them."
To qualify for the Olympics, Anand, ranked 61, has to be in the top-30 in the world before the cut-off date of April 30.
His Beijing Olympics dream received a severe setback last year when he dropped out of the top-30 bracket after the Badminton Association of India (BAI) restricted the players from participating in international tournaments outside the country.
Anand's compatriot Sridhar is ranked 29, way ahead in the race to Beijing.
"I know in the last one year people have written me off. But the drop in my ranking is not because of my game. Everybody knows the reason. It is because I could not participate in many international events last year," Anand said.
In the meantime, he has trained his sights on the Indian Open in Hyderabad April 1-6 and the Asian Championships in Johor Bahru, Malaysia April 15-20.
"I am not thinking about Olympics. My focus is on Indian Open and Asian Championships. If I do really well in both the tournaments, I will still have an outside chance of qualifying," said an optimistic Anand.
And, that seems to be enough to keep him going, at least for the present.