In the last Asian Games she was knocked out in the first round in the singles. Four years later she spearheads the Indian challenge as the biggest hope to win a medal. So, not surprisingly, the 20-year-old Saina Nehwal believes that she is in the best frame of mind to realise one of her dreams — to win a gold medal in the Asian Games.
Speaking to The Hindu ahead of the team's departure to China for the Asiad, the champion shuttler feels that the preparations have been good and that it is only a question of sustaining the level of excellence for one (long) week.
For the record, the team events commence from November 13 and the individual event four days later.
“It will be a different story in the Asiad compared to the Delhi Commonwealth Games because of the presence of Chinese and Indonesian shuttlers,” Saina said.
“But, the Indians are more comfortable than before in facing these players. We may sound confident but not definitely complacent when we say this,” said a visibly relaxed Saina, after another grinding schedule on Sunday.
“Surely, the singles gold in the Delhi Games was a special feeling in front of home crowds. And especially, so close to the Asian Games. The morale is high and all that I have to do is stick to the basics and avoid unforced errors,” Saina said.
The ace Indian woman shuttler is aware that she will be one of the most marked players by the opponents. “I did see for myself so many video cameras shooting my games to look for the weaknesses. These are quite a common. Though personally I hate to go through such videos to study my opponents,” Saina said.
Asked what exactly her goal was for the Asian Games, she said: “To be honest, I am very keen to just go out there and play well. Or else, you will not be focused,” Saina said.
Referring to the team's chances, Saina felt that the Indians were no push-overs. “The doubles pair of G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponappa and the mixed doubles duo of V. Diju and Jwala, besides P. Kashyap, the main challenge in the men's section, are all capable of producing special results.
“All we have to do is to avoid the pressure factor,” she said before signing off.
Keywords: Asian Games