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A 2016 Olympic gold medal in Rio, four Euro­pean tro­phies and three at the global level have made this ath­lete—who’s spon­sored by the Meliá group and serves as our am­bas­sador in Asia—a Span­ish icon in the spor ting world. We spoke with Carolina to dis­cover

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A chat with three-time bad­minton world cham­pion Carolina Marín, who’s spon­sored by the Meliá group.

Since Carolina Marín be­gan win­ning ti­tles, bad­minton com­pe­ti­tions in Spain have be­come un­miss­able events, gen­er­at­ing in­ter­est in a hobby that was pre­vi­ously un­known. Mean­while in Asia, where bad­minton play­ers are me­dia stars, she’s prac­ti­cally a celebrity. We spoke to her, a few days after she made his­tory by win­ning her third world ti­tle in Nan­jing (China).

You’re the only woman with four Euro­pean ti­tles and three world cham­pi­onships, plus an Olympic gold medal. How does it feel to be com­pared, at just 25 years of age, with Span­ish sport­ing le­gends like Án­gel Ni­eto, Sev­e­ri­ano Balles­teros and Rafael Nadal?

It’s a great recog­ni­tion, and it makes me re­ally happy that my name is as­so­ci­ated with the great­est ath­letes and icons in Span­ish his­tory. They ’ve done so much for our coun­try ’s sport­ing cul­ture.

How do you de­fine suc­cess?

It’s the cul­mi­na­tion of a jour­ney.

I’ve learned that want­ing suc­cess doesn’t bring you closer to achiev­ing it. You have to make a plan to work to­wards it and try to en­joy the jour­ney, even if it's hard.

In Spain alone, more than two and a half mil­lion peo­ple watched you

play in the bad­minton fi­nals. How many peo­ple might have watched it around the world?

The truth is I don’t know, but I guess it would be sev­eral hun­dred mil­lion. In China it’s the sec­ond or third most pop­u­lar sport to fol­low. And you also have to in­clude Ja­pan, Korea, Malaysia, In­done­sia, In­dia and so on.

Are you a star in Asia?

I play a sport that’s very pop­u­lar to watch there. That and my vic­to­ries have given me a lot of fol­low­ers who I share my suc­cesses with. It makes me re­ally happy, be­cause it means they like what I do.

As a hugely pop­u­lar fig­ure, do you feel any re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards the mil­lions of peo­ple who fol­low and ad­mire you?

I don’t feel too much re­spon­si­bil­ity; the best way to de­scribe how I feel is proud. Be­cause like I said, all of those peo­ple fol­low me be­cause of what I do and who I am.

We know that you train very hard, but is phys­i­cal train­ing enough?

No, not at all. The phys­i­cal as­pect is one part of train­ing, but so are the

YOU HAVE TO MAKE A PLAN TO WORK TO­WARDS, AND TRY TO EN­JOY THE JOUR­NEY EVEN IF IT'S HARD.

I’M VERY HAPPY TO RE­CEIVE THEIR SUP­PORT, AS WELL AS TO WEAR THEIR NAME ON MY UNI­FORM AND ACT AS THEIR AM­BAS­SADOR IN DIF­FER­ENT PARTS OF THE WORLD.

tech­ni­cal, tac­ti­cal and men­tal as­pects. One of the best things about my team is that we’ve man­aged to unify all of these parts, to make my train­ing com­pre­hen­sive.

How much of your suc­cess do you at­tribute to your team, val­ues, prepa­ra­tion and men­tal strength?

It kind of ties in to my an­swer to the pre­vi­ous ques­tion. With­out my team I wouldn’t have achieved what I have, and they un­doubt­edly af­fect my train­ing too. My val­ues and my men­tal strength have also been a fun­da­men­tal part of my suc­cess, but I can’t at­tribute per­cent­ages to the dif­fer­ent ar­eas.

Your motto, ‘I can be­cause I think I can’, has be­come fa­mous for its sense of willpower and fight­ing spirit, but do you have mo­ments of weak­ness?

Of course, we all have them. Ath­letes are not su­per­heroes.

The key lies in over­com­ing those mo­ments.

You love your coun­try, but what ad­vice or hopes do you have for it?

I don’t know what to say. I think a lot of the time we ath­letes are re­quired to be role mod­els and lead­ers not only in our own dis­ci­pline, but also in life. That be­ing said, I think it’s too much for me to give ad­vice to Spain. I'm just a bad­minton player.

Does be­ing Euro­pean pose an ex­tra dif­fi­culty in a sport that’s so pop­u­lar in Asia Pa­cific, which is dom­i­nated by Asian play­ers?

Bad­minton has a much longer his­tory in Asia, which helps more peo­ple get into play­ing the sport. But ex­tra dif­fi­culty... I’m not sure. Maybe when you play in a coun­try against a lo­cal player, ob­vi­ously the whole crowd will sup­port them, but be­yond that, I don’t think there are many dif­fer­ences.

If you had to choose the keys to your suc­cess, how would you rank these, in or­der of im­por­tance: tal­ent, ef­fort, val­ues and luck?

I don’t know how I would rank them, but I would say that hard work, dis­ci­pline and per­se­ver­ance are es­sen­tial.

Do you con­sider your­self a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the ‘brand’ of Spain?

I like that peo­ple recog­nise my coun­try be­cause of what I do. It’s a way of rep­re­sent­ing one of the many things we do well here.

How do you bal­ance your ca­reer with your spon­sor­ship agree­ment and part­ner­ship with Meliá Ho­tels In­ter­na­tional?

It’s an hon­our, that’s for sure. It’s the most sig­nif­i­cant brand in one of Spain’s strate­gic sec­tors, and I’m very happy to re­ceive their sup­port, as well as to wear their name on my uni­form and act as their am­bas­sador in dif­fer­ent parts of the world.

The CEO of Meliá Ho­tels In­ter­na­tional,Gabriel Es­car­rer, meets with Olympic ath­lete Carolina Marín,the Meliá group’s am­bas­sador in Asia.

Carolina Marín, a spor ting icon inSpain and around the world, has won more bad­minton world cham­pi­onships than any other player.

The Span­ish ath­lete is a su­per­star in Asia, where bad­minton is one of the most pop­u­larspor ts to fol­low.

The player cel­e­brates be­ing crowned world cham­pion for the third time in Au­gust 2018.

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