How has India improved in badminton lately

At some point on the way back this thought came up. A group of badminton delegates sat in the shuttle from the arena to the hotel in La Roche-sur-Yon, and Holger Hasse, the German head coach, was also there. They talked about Karin Schnaase's memorable game, and someone, says Hasse, came up with the idea of ​​the wildcard. With this, the world federation can also send athletes without Olympic qualifications to the games, mostly from weaker federations. "The Sarosi should get them now," said Hasse, "and everyone agreed." Yes, if anyone deserves such a wildcard, it is 23-year-old Laura Sarosi from Hungary.

It is difficult to understand from which corner the thought first came, whether from Hasse's shuttle bus, from other conversations or directly from the Internet. In any case, since the European Championships in France it has been flying higher and higher and wilder back and forth like a shuttlecock in a good match, and there is now an online petition for Sarosi's wildcard. 4,100 users have already signed, and around 100 are added every day. The specialist magazine Badminton bluffers writes, "What Sarosi did actually embraced the Olympic spirit." SportSkeeda, the largest sports portal in India, explains: "In Sarosi, badminton has an ambassador for real sportsmanship." And everywhere there is talk of the Olympic idea and fair play, that is, well-worn and commercially adopted terms that Sarosi has now breathed a meaning back into, probably simply because for a moment she did not think much, but acted .

In this first set of the first match of the last qualifying tournament for Rio, the tension was palpable, says Hasse. Schnaase was lying back and then the sole of her shoe broke. It was unthinkable to continue playing, badminton is a running and jumping sport. Schnaase did not have a replacement in her pocket, and until a second pair could have been procured from somewhere, she would have had to play with a mended sole. But it didn't come to that. Because Sarosi had reached into her own pocket and handed the opponent her replacement pair.

Obviously Sarosi hadn't mentally weighed the pros and cons. Hadn't thought about the fact that she'd arrived in France after a long overseas flight, and that there wasn't really time for good deeds. Also, Sarosi had probably not let the inner professional overrule the inner fair player. He could have breathed something like this: Such a gesture is quite nice, but no one will talk about it tomorrow! Instead you miss Rio, even though you have the 40 world ranking positions better German Karin Schnaase on the verge of defeat! Sarosi ignored these thoughts, not even the usual alibis for swallows, fouls, psychological tricks and other unfair play: the interests of the team, the fans, the sponsors. Sarosi was probably paying more attention to the essentials. The shoe size fit: 36.

On the other hand, it quickly became apparent that sport is not a fairy tale. Schnaase made the first sentence, but recovered, also because Hasse had found his own replacement couple in the meantime. In the end, she clearly won, and because it is also part of fair play that the beneficiary need not be ashamed of the benefits, the 31-year-old from Lüdinghausen was rightly happy about her first participation in the Olympics. From now on everything is geared towards Rio: Perhaps she is trying to improve her seeding position through further tournaments, perhaps she is still systematically training on her form. Sarosi, on the other hand, writes India Sport Skeeda, "go home and try it next time".

My own cause didn't work out, but it still gave food for thought. The small example of the shoes is a good reminder of what the core of the Olympics should be. Namely only about one's own performance, which is already limited if it benefits from the weakening of the opponent. "Individual striving for your own top performance without looking at the other, that is exactly the Olympic idea," says Hasse. That sounds naive in modern competition, on the other hand, the Olympic idea is not a business management virtue and can therefore be: naive.

In any case, Hasse signed the online petition, and if a commission takes on the matter, he would be available as a witness. And maybe Laura Sarosi will come to Rio as a surprise in August and sport is a fairy tale after all.