Saina Nehwal: India's pride in Badminton

Saina Nehwal is India's most popular Badminton player and has really rose to the heights in the recent past. Her rise although has been silent and sharp. She is a popular figure in the Badminton circles and is a student of India's best Badminton player, P. Gopichand. Read on to know who and what Saina Nehwal is!

A Brief introduction

Saina Nehwal, a name that brings joy to every badminton fan in India, is quite an icon these days. She is an Indian badminton player who is the first Indian to win a super series badminton tournament. This ace shuttler of India is considered to be the successor of the great P. Gopichand. Saina is a world class player who is currently ranked 4th in the world. This is the best position achieved by any Indian till now in the field of Badminton. This girl is now settled in the royal city of Nawabs, Hyderabad. She is India's brightest and most expected bet for a medal in the coming London Olympics. she has raised to glory through her consistently good and effective performances. She has shown to the world that India does have the capability to be world beaters in this sport which is majorly dominated by the Chinese, Malaysians and other south east Asian countries. Saina Nehwal is a really hard working personality who gives her 200% when ever she is playing for India. In her journey till now, she has clinched many titles for India and really helped India announce itself on the global scenario. She is easily India's best chance of having a shot at another individual Gold medal or any medal after the heroic performance of Abhinav Bindra in Beijing the last time around.

Childhood and Early life of Saina Nehwal

Saina was born in Dhindar village, Hisar district, Haryana on 17th March, 1990. She is currently 21 years old. She spent most of her child in the same place and moved to Hyderabad in 1998 along with her family. She was born to the gifted couple, Dr. Harvir Singh and Usha Rani. The significant and noteworthy fact is that both her parents were national level badminton players and hence she does owe a lot to this genetic heritage which she has inherited so successfully. The parents were national level badminton players and thus were always interested in sports and this helped Saina a lot. Her father played a prominent role in Saina's choice of career and he always encouraged this young girl to take up the sport of Badminton. By the time they moved to Hyderabad, Saina was already having a black belt in Karate. She quit due to personal dislike and loss of interest in the sport. Then her father plunged her into the wealthy and attractive game of Badminton. Also, they moved to Hyderabad at the same time. Hyderabad is the home city of the Badminton great, P. Gopichand. Hence, this helped her ever further. Her very first coach was Nani Prasad. This man is reputedly known as one who can spot talent irrespective of the age. He managed to see some bright spots in this tenderly young girl, Saina. She started playing Badminton at the age of 8 under the watchful eyes of this man called Nani Prasad. Then, she shifted base to the watchful zone of Mr. S.M. Arif, who is another great coach with a high reputation in the badminton circles across the country. The interesting fact is that all these coaches live in the same city, Hyderabad!

Soon, this girl showed her skill and she was too good to remain under these lesser known coaches. She soon made her way into the Gopichand Badminton academy where the great himself coaches the players. Saina is a personal favorite of Gopichand simply because this girl was really dedicated and hard working. Even though she did not have a naturally perfect game, she had the intent to work hard and work on her technique as well. This is the reason why many opponents in the world have been outlasted by Saina in many a game. She simply is gifted in the stamina aspect and can play continuously for up to 5 hours. The progress at the academy was rapid and fast as there was really a good practice and the facilities helped Saina fine tune her game more. She was now ready for the national level championships.

Teen age and rise to fame

At a tender age of just 14, she participated in the national junior badminton championships. This is when she got noticed. She simply eased past all the highly reputed opponents and stunned all the viewers and went against all expectations by going to win the National junior Badminton championship. From then on, she started becoming noticed in the circles and many people started tracking this young diamond that was just cut skilfully by the mastermind, Gopichand. She won The National Junior Badminton championship in 2004. Then she successfully came back the next year and defended the title with much more proficiency as she simply dominated the field and won very very comfortably. She was totally on a different level when compared with her opponents. These were very bright signs for the Indian badminton which until then had no aggressive and quality players. Saina too the game to a whole new level with her aggressive and powerful technique which often made the opponents look helpless. Her natural power in the shots was well channelized and organized. Importantly, she was aware of her strengths and started building on them. This shaped up her career just perfectly. She was soon going to represent India anyway as she simply was too good to be confined to the domestic circuit alone. The first assurance of this expectation was visible when Saina beat the national champion and favorite for the championship and became the Country's National Badminton Champion. She was the talk of the town now. This little looking girl from Hyderabad had stunned all her skeptics and clearly showed a gap of quality between her and her nearest opponent. She thus graduated from the domestic circuit to the national level. She soon graduated to the National senior level and as expected, she racked up an impressive performance by winning the competition. After this it was what she did in the International circuit that mattered. She was too good to be confined to the country's limits.

International rise - A Bright star

Saina's first major breakthrough in the international circuit came in the year 2004. She was in the Indian youth team at the Youth Common Wealth games that year. She inspired the entire team to lift up its performance and with her sheer power and skill, motored India to the silver medal in that competition. From then, this star really announced herself on the global platform. the next breakthrough came in the next year itself. In the year 2005, she won the Asian Satellite badminton tournament at the tender age of just 15! The most important start in her global career was in the Philippines in the year 2006. She this year won the Common Wealth games Bronze medal and the respected Philippines Open where many of the top world players participated. Saina certainly outclassed many of them on her way to the Podium. Also, she went back the same year and successfully defended her title at the Asia Satellite tournament. She stunned all her skeptics by surprisingly notching up a huge upset by winning the National gold medal driving past people like Aditi Muttatkar. She was now the Senior National champion and she really started turning on the heat in the badminton circles in the country by now.

The year 2008 was a really very important year as this was the year of Beijing Olympics. She showcased her class to the world by going to round of last 8, i.e, the Quarter Finals. This was the best performance by an Indian shuttler at the Olympics. This really gave her career a big boost and India suddenly had an Icon in Badminton! She was the world champion in the world Junior championships that year and she also won her first grand prix gold that year. The next year was equally fruitful for her. She won her first major title, the super series title in the country, Indonesia. This competition is considered to be one of the toughest in the world as it has tough participants from the traditional powerhouses like China, Indonesia, Korea and Japan. Saina was on par with all these power house players and she really made a huge impact. With this victory in 2009, she certainly stamped her authority over the world Badminton scenario. She also made it to the Quarterfinals at the World championship that year and she certainly was now ranked among the Elite in the sport of Badminton's current lot of players. She also won the Yonex Sunrise Badminton tournament that year. This is an annual tournament held in Hyderabad and is sponsored by Yonex. This was a significant victory for her as the sport suddenly aroused interest among the public and the following increased exponentially after Saina's victory that year.

She was at the peak of her form in the year 2010. She won as many as 3 super series titles that year. This was a large step for Badminton in the entire country as her respect grew. These 3 wins and the Commonwealth Games Gold medal at the CWG pumelled her to the Rank 2 in the entire world and she was only next to one person. This is the highest individual ranking achieved by any Indian in badminton. Saina was the second best player in the world now. Her gold medal at the CWG was really a memorable won as she made a come back of sorts and restored India's pride. Her Gold propelled India to the second position in the medals tally and she really played a significant role during the CWG. The year 2011 was filled with unfortunate events as she was troubled by an injury was out of the game for a considerable amount of time. How ever, she came back off the bench to defeat the world no.2 Xin Wang of China in the Sudiraman trophy. she won the Swiss Open GP and ended up second on the podium at the Indonesian GP and and Malaysian GP.

Professional Profile of Saina

  • Saina is a right handed player and wields her badminton racket in the right hand.

  • She is of a medium height of 5 feet 5 inches. She is basically a power player who relies more on finishing with Smashes rather than deft placements how ever, she has proven her mettle in the net play aspect of the sport as well many times.

  • She is engaged with Yonex and uses its badminton rackets. Especially the Yonex Arc saber series which is usually used by power players.

  • She essentially is a singles player and only plays in the singles competitions usually.

  • She currently trains at the Gopichand Badminton Academy, Hyderabad under the able guidance of the great P. Gopichand.

  • Saina's pet name is Steffi Saina named after the Tennis Legend, Steffi Graff. Although, she has now got this tag removed as she basically is a badminton player while Steffi is simply a legend of Tennis.

  • Coaches

  • Saina initially was coached by Nani Singh. Nani Singh is an esteemed person in the country's badminton circles.

  • She was later spotted by the famous coach, S. M. Arif, the Hyderabadi legend of Badminton. She soon shifted her base to the Fateh Maidan indoor stadium in the city under the watchful eyes of Arif sir.

  • After that national junior championship which she won so comprehensively, the great P. Gopichand took the initiative to tap this natural talent and mentor this jewel of India. She successfully grew as a badminton player of world class level under this great man's guidance. Gopichand trains many more such talented players at his academy, the Gopichand Badminton Academy which is situated in the area of Gachbowli in the city of Hyderabad. This has become a nodal center for Badminton in the country now.

  • As a special stint, the great Atik Jouhari, the Indonesian badminton legend himself coached Saina. She spent almost 6 months under his watchful eyes and came out a far better player. This stint, she says was very important as it helped her fine tune her game and she worked really hard on her technique.

  • National Awards - A reward for hardwork

    In her short stint as an Indian sporting Icon, Saina has already racked many national awards. She has been awarded many awards by the Indian government as well.

  • She won the Prestigious Arjuna Award in the year of 2009.

  • She is a Padma shri award recipient and it was awarded in the year 2010.

  • Her continuous struggle and consistent performances proved most fruitful when she ended up in the list of recipients for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in mid August, 2010. This is the highest civilian honor given to any sports person and she rightly owed it to her coaches and family. She has become an absolute phenomenon in such a short span of time and this award was just another testimony to the great work done by this wonderful child of this great country.

  • Saina at the Olympics

    She is a highly dynamic and versatile and strong powerful. She is rated to me among the strongest players in the badminton arena today in the modern world. Also, she has caused many upsets in the past and the last performance at the Beijing Olympics is surely an indication there is more to come from this girl. Her accurate smashes and deft net play are the corner stones of her game and she just is essentially an ideal competitor for the world level. She is India's one of the brightest hopes at the Olympics in London and surely, she will try to make the nation proud. She although will be having a very tough competition from players from China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and her favorite rival, Tin Rasmussen. Even if she fails in the individual event which is highly unlikely, she can be a deciding factor in the team event as well. The badminton team of India has very good players like Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa, v. Diju etc. Hence, the country is expecting medals from the team event and the performance of Saina will be very crucial for this. I wish her all the best on behalf of all the fellow Indians and I am sure we will be seeing them return with a good haul of medals from the Olympics. Jai Hind!

    More articles: AI


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