She has also qualified for the World Badminton Championship thanks to her ranking in doubles, along with her lifelong friend Paula La Torre. “The classification alone is already an achievement”, she tells us. But they want to continue improving, so they will give their hundred and seek to be prepared for any duo that stands in their way, whether they are Asian duos -the highest level- or Europeans. They will be the only Peruvians in this edition. Depor contacted her to tell us more about her successful passage through Valledupar and what is coming in the World Cup in Japan.
You won in all the modalities that you competed, how does it feel to arrive in Peru with four Bolivarian golds?
Always bringing an achievement to Peru is quite exciting. Being able to arrive with four gold medals, which was the most I could achieve, gives me great satisfaction and happiness.
What was the medal that you liked the most?
The golds in ‘singles’, in doubles and in teams were always my goals. But the gold in mixed doubles (together with José Guevara) was the most surprising, because I don’t normally play that modality. I was aiming to get to the final, not necessarily win gold, but we were able to get it. It was very exciting. That medal, which was the last one, allowed me to complete the four gold medals.
In the individual category, in addition, you only lost a single set in the entire competition and it was against Namie Miyahira, who is also a member of the national team.
The truth is that, in general, it was a good championship for me. It was difficult, because of the altitude, we were at 2,600 meters above sea level, but I think I was sufficiently prepared to be able to give my best in all the modalities and perform well until the end. The preparation helped me with that and it paid off.
Do you feel this is the best performance you’ve had in your career?
In any case, it has been one of the championships where I have had the best performance. In addition, it has been one of the most important championships of the year. So, the preparation for January began with a view to these Games, and I believe that, with planning and a lot of discipline, it is possible to achieve the lofty goals that one sets for himself.
And what has been your most important achievement to date?
In Cali (Colombia), at the Junior Pan American Games last year. I got a bronze medal in ‘singles’. That is my most important achievement that I have had so far.
You mentioned to me that the competition in Valledupar was difficult due to the height, how was the previous adaptation?
We traveled a week before, which we normally don’t, we normally travel 2 to 3 days before, and that week we trained a lot. We did it to be able to adapt, because adaptation is much more difficult at height. Outside of the physical, you get more tired, the pen goes much faster. So the game changes completely. You have to play another type of game on the field.
Did you feel comfortable playing at height?
Anyway, it’s hard. But I think that after a week of training and the first games they helped me gain more confidence for the rest of the championship. Still, you never feel 100% satisfied or 100% comfortable, but you have to work with what you have.
Part of this success in Valledupar has been mental strength, how have you worked on that aspect?
We are working with a psychologist, who helps us with everything on the subject of the psychological part of the sport, which is very important, because you have to have a strong mind to win a game, it’s not just the physical and technical aspects. The psychological part is something that has always been important, only recently it is being given more attention.
What do you think is the reason for the success of the badminton team?
To all the effort and sacrifice we give. Personally, I sacrifice a lot, I put sport as a priority. I go in every shift, every day, and the training is super strong. I believe that all the achievements, the medals that we can bring, is thanks to the preparation and to the entire Peruvian team that works together.
And that is reflected in the team gold medal obtained in the Bolivarianos.
Anyway. The team gold medal is a merit of the whole team, of each one of us. Winning that medal was exciting, because always in a team competition you feel all the support of your teammates. I think the semifinal match against El Salvador was the most difficult, it was quite exciting to be able to win it. Badminton has always been a sport in which Peru does very well. At the South American level we are a power with Brazil, and at the Pan-American level we are also doing very well normally.
|Ines Castillo gold medals||Beside…|
|women’s doubles||Paula the Tower|
|mixed doubles||Jose Guevara|
|by teams||Daniel La Torre – Diego Mini (Official Music Video) Diego Mini – Diego Mini (Official Music Video)|
And what would Peruvian badminton lack to continue advancing and be at the level of Canada or some European country?
I think popularity, because badminton is not very well known. It has only been four years since it began to massify and leave Lima. So, academies are just emerging in the provinces. But, in any case, in the long term, Peruvian badminton will continue to grow and thus, the more popular and better known, the more people play and the more talent appears.
Your next challenge is the Badminton World Championships at the end of August in Tokyo, what do you expect from this tournament?
I’ll play doubles with Paula. I hope, first, to be able to perform at the level that touches us. Since it’s for keys, we have to wait for the key to come out to see who we’re up against, to set ourselves the goal. The last time we played against those who were world champions and we lost against them (in the second round), because it is direct elimination. But hopefully this time we get a more accessible key to move forward. Although the level is super high, Japan is a power in badminton, we are going to go with everything to fight against whatever they put in front of us.
And what comes after the World Cup in Japan?
First are the South American Games, which are in Asunción (between October 1 and 15). There we also have high goals, it is a much stronger championship because Brazil is there. And then next year is the Pan American Games.
How do you see yourself from here in the future in badminton?
Now I am studying fashion design and management at UPC, but my priority is badminton. I want to finish the Olympic cycle (Paris 2024) and then see what I want to consider.
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