Young World

Breaking the jinx

Saina Nehwal. Photo: AP  

One could cut through the tension with a knife, as the audience watched a svelte 25-year-old lashing out at the shuttlecock, challenging her Indonesian opponent to get the better of her. Even as Lindaweni Fanetri retaliated, giving it her best shot, what had started off as a fight to the finish ended in a resounding triumph for the former. Last week, Saina Nehwal became the first Indian to reach the finals of the World Badminton Championships held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Despite being the first Indian to win a bronze in badminton at the Olympics three years ago, there had been murmurs of disapproval after she had tried and failed five times, to go beyond the quarter finals, in the world championships. Many questioned her ability to perform on the big stage. This year, the jinx was finally broken and Nehwal effectively silenced her critics by clinching the deal.

Born in Hisar, Haryana, Nehwal’s fervour for the game grew with her. Her association with the game dates to a time when, as an infant, she would accompany her parents to badminton courts — she would sleep in a corner while her parents played! She was five when she learnt to handle the racquet and by nine, she was completely into the game.

Claim to fame

In 2006, Nehwal became the under-19 national champion and created history by winning the celebrated Asian Satellite Badminton tournament (India Chapter) twice, becoming the first player to do so. She also became the second Indian woman to win the Philippines Open. In August 2012, she bagged the bronze at the London Olympics. In 2014, she became the first Indian woman to emerge victorious in the China Open Super Series Premier. In April, this year, Nehwal became World No.1 after she took over the spot from Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui.

Nehwal’s achievement in Jakarta comes at an opportune moment, one that has turned her career around! Last year, she had contemplated quitting due to a series of poor performances and injuries. She credits her career’s turning point and her success to her coach Vimal, at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru, who gave her the attention she required to fine tune the nuances of the game and streamline her strategies. After her impressive record-breaking performance at the World Championships, Nehwal is all geared up to put on a strong show at the Olympics Games that will be held next year at Rio.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 11:36:42 AM |

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