Saina Nehwal won two titles – the girls’ singles and doubles – at the national junior badminton championship held in Kozhikode in 2005.
It happened seven years ago, but those images from the V.K. Krishna Menon Indoor Stadium are fresh in one’s memory still. It is not every day that you get to see a precocious teenaged girl creating magic on a badminton court.
That short-haired girl from Hyderabad, Saina Nehwal, was a treat to watch right through the national junior badminton championship of 2005. She won two titles then – the girls’ singles and doubles.
Her power and speed were the main features of her victory in the singles final against Aditi Mutadkar of Maharashtra.
Kozhikode’s own Aparna Balan was Saina’s doubles partner. You did not have to be a genius to figure out that this girl was going to achieve in Indian badminton what nobody else did.
And she knew that herself. “I want to win an Olympic medal,” she had told this writer during a lengthy interview.
She had also said that she needed sponsors and The Hindu had carried that in the report’s headline. Now, of course, the sponsors are after Saina; she could pick and choose. That is one of the beauties of life; things have a habit of changing a bit too dramatically.
She was the star of the national sub-junior championship at the very venue in 2003.
Saina was not the only promising star at that national junior badminton event of 2005 in Kozhikode; there was this boy from Hyderabad, who had never won a national title before. He was an exciting player, especially with his overhead half-smashes.
He won the boys’ singles title. His name was P. Kashyap, who surprised quite a few by reaching the men’s singles quarterfinals at the London Olympics before Saina went on to win the historic bronze medal.