The ace shuttler, who is looking forward to the India Open Series in New Delhi that begins on April 23, says it will be the first step to realise her big dream
The Queen of Indian badminton, Saina Nehwal, is in no mood to abdicate. She is keen to script another memorable chapter in her glorious career.
Well, this 23-year-old ace shuttler from the city is now gunning for bigger glory on the world stage. Currently ranked World No.2 according to BWF rankings (for the second time in her career) on Thursday, Saina, unlike in the past, insists that it means a lot to be the World No. 1.
“Yes, why not? No one else in Indian badminton has achieved that No. 1 ranking,” was the smiling counter from Saina to a query.
She also reminded that the India Open Series in Delhi from April 23 should be the first big step to realise her another big dream.
What is the biggest change you see after the 2012 London Olympics bronze medal?
“Honestly, there is a lot of recognition. People are following you very closely, keen to keep track of your showings in different events,” Saina says. “Yes, the pressure because of expectation is always there,” she adds.
“Yes, I take pride in representing my country, my people. Well, it is not easy every time to keep winning. I will continue to work hard,” the best-ever woman shuttler from India says.
What hurts you the most?
“I feel really bad when I lose even while knowing that winning and losing are parts of any sport,” points out Saina. Whom do you look for motivation and inspiration when you are down? “No one specifically. To be honest, when you enter the court, you have to forget all these things. It is a different world out there once you are facing the opponent,” she says.
“My biggest source of strength comes from within myself – the willingness to keep fighting, never give up,” insists the champion shuttler.
How did life at home change after the Olympic medal?
“It is far more relaxed back home. I am proud to have such wonderful parents who backed me to the hilt in a sport, which was not so popular and lucrative when I started playing. It needed some passion and gut feeling to do that. And now, they are really happy that their huge efforts paid off,” explains Saina.
Any regrets for not pursuing academics also with the same seriousness? “Well, I earn more than what a doctor or an engineer – in terms of money and recognition for representing India at the highest level,” she says with a hearty laugh.
What are the special moments you cherish the most when you look back? “The Olympic medal certainly tops the list. Secondly, the awards I received from the President of India in the hallowed Rashtrapati Bhavan. Finally, the Doctorate from Aligarh University,” feels Saina.
What is the most demanding aspect of your daily routine?
“To keep away from some of my favourite food items. Can you believe I have never seen most of the city. For me there are only two destinations – home and Gopichand Academy,” signs off the champion.