Aparna gears up for Athens Olympics

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/A/Aparnapopat.jpg' class='caption'> Olympics qualifier Aparna Popat hopes to put in a better showing.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Aparna Popat, the only Indian badminton player to qualify for the Athens Olympics, hopes to put in a better showing this time around. "It's definitely a great news. I have been working very hard to qualify, so it's a good feeling to finally be on the list," said the champion. Aparna qualified this year based on her world ranking, which is currently 23rd. The 26-year-old had lost in the first round at the Sydney Olympics. "It's going to be very hectic from now onwards. We have three months before the event and I think the first month is going to be a lot of outdoor training and thereafter get onto the court and work very hard," she added. "My form is quite good. We've had a very long tiresome season. I did well in Japan Open reaching the pre-quarters. The World Championships was good for me as I reached the pre-quarters and won the Asian Satellite sometime in November last year. I also had a couple of good wins over the players in the top twenty bracket, so things are looking bright," she added. Aparna is currently being coached by Ganguly Prasad, who was incidentally also Pullela Gopicahand's coach in the run up to his all England championship title. "She had a hectic one year in order to qualify. She had to play a lot of tournaments. So now we have to get back to the basics and we are working on the fitness as well as the basics. We will build up to the Olympics slowly," said Ganguly Prasad. The Olympic qualifier comes as a shot in the arm for India's best known women's badminton player. And Aparna says that the going from this point, can only get better.

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