Saina Nehwal says the announcement that Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award will be conferred on her means “greater responsibility and also a huge motivation ahead of the World championship in Paris next month”.
It may be mentioned here that on Friday Saina Nehwal was named to receive this prestigious award.
The champion shuttler, who only recently achieved another first by becoming the first-ever badminton player from India to be ranked World No. 2, is delighted to reiterate that she never ever in her dream realise that she would have such a fantastic run.
“This is exactly the reason why I feel once a sportsperson starts winning the big titles, things will fall in place,” the unassuming champion remarked.
“Well, any national award carries its own special value and charm. And, this Rajiv Khel Ratna is truly a special one and I am mighty pleased with this announcement,” Saina said. “Definitely, I never gave a thought to these awards. But, it doesn’t mean that they don’t matter much. Getting them in itself is a huge achievement,” she explained.
The Hyderabadi also took the opportunity to thank the Lok Sabha Speaker and all the members for the recent congratulatory message hailing her achievements. “It was a terrific gesture for it gives you that rare feeling of your achievements is getting the due recognition,” she said.
"I don't think that these awards mean great pressure in the events lined up ahead. In fact, it should be the other way round. Make you feel confident if not complacent," she said to a query.
"Let me repeat again that winning World Championship is more important than attaining World No. 1 status. For even if you are the No. 1 and still don't win the world title it may not have that much of significance," Saina argued.
Only last year, Saina got the Padma Shri and her coach and mentor Pullela Gopi Chand Dronacharya Award. And, by getting this prestigious award, the famous trainee of the ‘guru’ is only emulating the latter who was also the recipient of Rajiv Khel Ratna in his illustrious career.
“This is a fantastic feeling. She truly deserves this award. And, it is not something, which is earned overnight. There is lot of struggle behind this award,” pointed out Gopi.
“Well, she has always been a special talent and all these rankings and awards are perhaps just what she needs as inspiration to keep improving,” he said.
“In fact, whatever is happening to Saina will have a direct positive bearing on the Indian badminton itself. For the titles and awards won by Saina should definitely inspire many more youngsters to look up to badminton as a big sport,” Gopi felt.
As always Dr. Harvir Singh, father of Saina Nehwal, was also delighted even while pointing out that he did not expect it to come so soon. “Anyhow, we thank God for all the blessings,” he added.
Dronacharya S. M. Arif says he is not surprised by the way Saina has been hogging the limelight. "These victories and the awards are a reflection of her growing stature. I wish all the best for the World championship and she has every chance and the calibre to be the World No. 1," he remarked.