It looked as if everything at the Directorate of Oil Seeds Research at the Dr. Acharya Ranga Agricultural University (Rajendranagar) here came to a standstill for close to 45 minutes on Friday afternoon as the most popular shuttler Saina Nehwal was battling for a place the 2012 London Olympics.
For, the staff at the University where Saina’s father Dr. Harvir Singh is a scientist was all glued to the TV sets in their respective rooms – perhaps like millions across India in anticipation of an assured medal from the champion Hyderabadi.
Despite giving a series of sound bytes to the TV channels just before the match, Dr. Harvir Singh was a picture of composure when he quietly slipped into the Room No.1at the Jyothi Hostel on the University premises to be joined soon by the horde of media personnel armed with cameras.
The sight of members of the Brahmakumaris tying ‘rakhi’ even as the scoreline read 3-3 all in the second game and started distributing sweets, he did not any signs of discomfort, politely accepting all the wishes and managing to have a glance on the TV screen for the live telecast.
The early smiles when the Saina-Wang Yihan semi-final began made way slowly for grim faces as the Chinese World No. 1 started taking control despite a relatively tough first game.
“Arey yeh (Saina) height dheri hain Chinese ko. Yeh nahin karna,” exclaimed the proud father of Saina when the shuttler was tossing up the shuttle to the advantage of the opponent. “Come on, maar,” was how he was screaming the few times Saina managed to pull of her trade-mark smashes.
Even as the second game started, there was a lot of optimism when Saina leveled the scores quite a few times till 12-all which saw her father show lot of enthusiasm.
But, soon when it became apparent that Wang Yihan began dictating terms, Dr. Harvir too seemed to have resigned to fate.
But, in true sporting spirit, he was seen applauding the moment Chinese girl emerged a clear winner.
“This was not Saina’s day honestly. You must appreciate the way Wang played today. After all she is the World No. 1. Definitely, Saina could have played better,” he remarked at the end of the most-eagerly badminton contest from Indian perspective.
“I am still proud of my daughter for having reached thus far,” he said to a query.
“Well, she did speak to me last night about today’s match. She was aware that she was up against World No. 1. I just advised to be relaxed and give off her best. In sport as in life you win some and lose some,” Dr. Harvir Singh pointed out.
“It is not all over even now. Saina can still win a bronze (she plays Wang Xin in the play-off),” said the father. “Any medal in Olympics is a special feat and I am confident that she will come back with the bronze,” he concluded.