I hope to do well in world championship, says Saina

Aiming high: Badminton player Saina Nehwal addressing a press conference in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Aiming high: Badminton player Saina Nehwal addressing a press conference in Bangalore on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Kalyan Ashok

The young champion aims to break into the top five this year

Bangalore: The newfound stardom sits easy on Saina shoulders. The 19-year-old Hyderabadi is the toast of the Indian sports fans after she won the world junior badminton title in September 2008. Currently ranked No. 10 in the world, she is being spoken with same awe and admiration that one associated with legendary Prakash Padukone.

In town for a function which saw her being named as “brand ambassador” for Herbalife, the makers of health and nutrition products, Saina recalled the moments when she played in junior tournaments in Bangalore and looked back at her journey. “I never thought I would be standing here as a brand ambassador and as world no.10 player here one day,” said the chirpy young girl. The hallmark of Saina’s game is her never-say-die spirit and her fearlessness. When the order of the day in badminton was Chinese domination, she broke the rules, challenged and conquered them too. The balance of the sport has been shifting inexorably in youth’s side and Saina is the torchbearer for the new brigade which is set to rule the sport.

Saina looks beyond her ranking and looks ahead to be among the top five before year is out. But she admits it will be tough road ahead. “There are so many experienced players who are still around and doing well for themselves”.

But she is quite confident of her goals and coping up with pressure. Like another fellow Hyderabadi, Sania Mirza, there are huge expectations on her.

“It is not new to me now and I hope to do well in the world championship (in April) which will be played at home at home in Hyderabad and I am hoping for a good support from our fans,” said Saina , who was happy with her form .

Ajay Khanna, country head of Herbalife India, said: “It is a privilege to have a young sports icon like Saina Nehwal as our brand ambassador and she will lustre to our product and play key role in its promotion across the country.”

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