Saina Nehwal is undoubtedly the queen of Indian badminton. The 4th seeded player in the world missed a medal at the Beijing Olympics, but came back strongly to win a bronze medal at the London Olympics. Winning an Olympic medal was her dream since the time she started playing, now she has achieved that dream and is elated about that.
“I am extremely happy and relieved, I have always wanted to win an Olympic medal and it feels great. I came so close to winning the medal at Beijing but couldn’t win. Every day I thought about the missed opportunity and it was great to stand on the podium in London.”
She was very close to win a medal in her first Olympics at Beijing four years ago, on her journey from Beijing to London Saina said, “The journey has been pretty good. I had a chance to win a medal in my first Olympics and things were going great for me in the quarterfinals but somehow I lost the match, I think about that loss even now and it hurts. Since Beijing, I can say that I handle pressure better as I have played in so many major competitions. Going into the London Olympics I was very upbeat about my chances as I won Thailand Open and Indonesia Open in quick span and that gave me a lot of confidence.”
Before the Indian contingent left for London, Saina was one of the biggest contender to win a medal and the girl from Hyderabad did not deny the fact that there was huge pressure on her, “There was huge pressure on me; I knew that people expected a lot from me and it will be wrong if I say that it didn’t affect me. After the loss in Beijing, I really wanted to win a medal. There were times when I cried in the practice sessions. An Olympic medal means a lot to me and I am very happy that I won a bronze medal.”
Badminton is a sport dominated by the Chinese players and it is the rivalry between Saina and the Chinese players that makes the sport so much more interesting. Saina said, “Chinese have always dominated badminton and one will have to beat them if you want to do well in the competition. There were four Chinese players in Olympics, I lost to one and defeated one, so I am pretty happy with the overall ratio. It is always going to be Saina vs China, in badminton. There are 5-6 Chinese players who are dominating the badminton world, we also need some players to come up to break the ‘Chinese Wall’ on a consistent basis.”
This was the best Olympics for India, Saina considers winning six medals to be a great achievement, “It is a huge achievement, India is not a sporting country and it is not easy to win an Olympic medal so to win six is a huge thing. The biggest achievement is that all the athletes that participated in London went there to win and not only to participate. Things are changing for good and things will be better in the future”, said Saina.
By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News