Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal is India's best hope for a medal in the Rio Olympics. Pictured: Saina Nehwal in action during an India Open badminton match in New Delhi, on April 1, 2016.IANS

The 2016 Rio Olympics will witness seven Indian badminton players participating in the quadrennial event, which is less than 100 days away. This is the biggest ever badminton contingent from the country to have qualified for the Olympics. Five Indian shuttlers featured in the 2012 Olympics, with Saina Nehwal winning a bronze medal. 

Saina and PV Sindhu will represent India in the women's singles competition in Rio. Saina is India's brightest hope for a medal at the Rio Olympics, but she needs to play her best badminton of the year to finish on the podium.

The former world number one has been troubled with injuries since late last year, but she has recovered well, and her recent performances have been decent.

Sindhu will also be keen to impress in the biggest stage of all. The Hyderabadi girl has it in her to spring a few surprises, and if she gets her act going, she could be a threat to other players in the competition.

India's chief coach, Pullela Gopichand hopes for medals this time.

"The poor performances are because some of them have fitness issues. But they continued to play as they had to qualify for Rio. Now that the qualification process is over, we will get around eight weeks to train. It will be enough for them. I am expecting more medals this time," The Times of India quoted Gopichand as saying.

However, the field is much tougher in the men's section, as Kidambi Srikanth is the lone shuttler from India to have qualified for the competition. India should consider themselves unfortunate as they could have fielded one more player, Parupalli Kashyap, but the player had to undergo surgery last month, and thus could not feature in important qualifying events, which in turn saw his rankings tumble down. 

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will feature in the women's doubles, while Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy will represent India in the men's doubles in Rio.

"It is big achievement for us, a result of our consistent performances. I am quite happy... In fact, eight shuttlers could have qualified, but Kashyap suffered an injury at the wrong time," Gopichand said.

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