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I couldn’t bend my knee or climb the stairs, says Saina

BACK ON COURT: Saina Nehwal. Photo: Sudhakara Jain

BACK ON COURT: Saina Nehwal. Photo: Sudhakara Jain  

Bengaluru: Two months after a painful knee injury took her down at the Rio Olympics, Saina Nehwal is finally back on court. “I’m very happy to be back,” she said on Saturday at the KBA, where she began training this week.

“Two months is a big gap. As of now, I can’t say how many weeks it will take for me to get back to perfect shape. It is the beginning that is difficult because after so many months, I’m moving again. It’s so tough to take even a little load. I’m just happy to be standing out there and moving a little. With time, the knee will become stronger.”

Saina, whose injury was later diagnosed as a ‘right knee infrapatellar spur displaced fracture with patellar tendon impingement’, described the pain she endured in the immediate aftermath of the Olympic Games. “It was tough. I was not even able to walk at home. I couldn’t bend my knee or climb the stairs. Even while sleeping, I felt pain when I straightened my knee. There was a lot of pain everywhere,” she said.

Saina then consulted Dr. Dinshaw Pardiwala in Mumbai, who recommended surgery to remove the spur, which had broken off and was pinching the adjoining tendon. Her injury was so serious, the 26-year-old revealed, that her doctor was surprised she had managed to play at all in Rio. “He told me: ‘[If I was in that position] I would not have played. Anyone would have cried in that situation. Thank God you lost that second match or the tendon itself would have gone. It would have been like a career-ending injury.”

Tough time

The London 2012 bronze medallist in fact played through pain. “I was icing it but there was no relief at all,” she said. “I took the highest dosage of painkillers but even that was not helping. It was a tough time. But now, I feel it was a good thing that happened to me because I could consult the best physios and correct the physical mistakes I was making.”

Saina was firm in stating that she was not aware of her injury prior to the Olympics. “I didn’t know that it was a spur. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have played,” she said. “I’d rather miss tournaments and stay fit than injure myself. The body comes first.”

Soon after surgery, the rehabilitation process began under the Mumbai-based sports physiotherapist, Heath Matthews. “Everything went well thanks to his guidance,” Saina said. “I had to strengthen the knee area, my quads and glutes. It’s just that the tendon has to heal. I’ve done a lot of strengthening but I need to do a lot more of it.”

Saina confirmed that she had entered the China Open (Nov. 15-20) and the Hong Kong Open (Nov. 22-27), but said her participation would depend on how she felt in the next three weeks.

Although she worried sometimes, Saina stated, she was sure she’d hit her old heights again. “Injuries affect everyone; I’m not a special case,” she said. “Look at guys like (Rafael) Nadal. Of course, I had a tough time. It was hurting really badly in Rio. Surgery is a thing everyone is scared of...you’re wondering how things will be afterwards. It’s hard not being on the court. You’re only doing rehab and sometimes you get a little tense wondering how it’ll be when you get back. When I come out of this, I will feel happy that I faced such a big injury. I’ve won so many events with my fighting spirit. I’m sure I can win many more.”

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:23:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/I-couldn%E2%80%99t-bend-my-knee-or-climb-the-stairs-says-Saina/article16078904.ece

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