After two years of remarkable performances when they won the Thomas Cup, several World Tour titles and Asian Championships and Asian Games gold, the world no. 2 Indian duo made a rollicking start to a fresh season in 2024, the year of the Olympics, by making a runner-up finish at the Malaysia Open Super 1000.
Satwik and Chirag are now on the brink of reaching back-to-back finals at the India Open Super 750. When they play the semifinal in New Delhi on Saturday against their arch-nemesis Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia, the Indian pair will not only be in contention for a place in the final but stands a chance to reclaim the world no. 1 rank from China’s Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang next week.
As the duo won titles and rose in rankings, they have come out as India’s most reliable hope for the fourth consecutive Olympic medal. Given their current gutsy form, quality and world-beating appearance, Satwik and Chirag are not only being deemed as India’s hope for a gold medal in Paris.
Just as they did last year by ending India’s prolonged wait for a maiden gold at the Asian in October, there are high expectations of them scripting history in Paris too.
As the expectations grew manifold, there were crucial questions of handling the pressure. Satwik and Chirag’s coach Mathias Boe, the man who guided and oversaw the rise of the Indian pair, downplays it.
“The Olympics are the biggest target this year — no doubt about it but it is still six-seven months away. We want to use these tournaments as practice to sharpen up and also win tournaments. We are deciding certain things for the Olympics,” said Boe.
“Yes, there is a lot of expectation from them. You can see that. Every athlete feels pressure at the Olympics, but yes, I can understand, there are few athletes in India who raise hopes of an Olympic medal. We are as relaxed as possible, ” he added.
“I don’t think it’s pressure (from outside).. the biggest pressure comes from inside. My job is to get them as prepared, see that they get to play as close to 100 per cent. That is my goal,” asserted the Dane coach of the Indian duo.
Boe, an Olympic silver medallist in men’s doubles, however, said at the Olympics it is more about managing your mind than just playing.
“If they can play close to their best, then their opponents will have to play well to have a shot at a medal. We are not thinking about medals. We think of doing our best on the court. At the Olympics, it’s a mental thing and we have to see how best they are handling it, said Boe.