SPORT

I want to get into top five: Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Vipin Chandran

Principal Correspondent

KOCHI: Saina Nehwal has this wonderful habit of setting one goal and achieving a bigger one. Her target for this year was to get into the world’s top 25. She’s now the No. 10.

The World junior badminton champion has now set herself an exciting new goal.

“By the end of next year, I want to get into the top five,” said the 18-year-old who was in Kochi, along with chief National coach P. Gopi Chand, to open The Choice School’s air-conditioned badminton hall and indoor swimming pool, on Saturday evening.

“I have to work harder, on my defence and endurance, but the way I am playing, I know it’s possible.”

How far to No. 1? She looked up at the ceiling for a moment, offered a small smile, and said, “To become No. 1, I’d have to beat all the world’s top players. Of course, I’d love to be No. 1.”

Good bunch of players

With almost all the players above her in the 30 years age zone and nearly ready to go, one thought Saina’s chance of climbing the big rungs in world badminton would not take long.

“But the next line of Chinese players are also very good, I think they can be better than the current top players,” said the BPCL Officer who is settled in Hyderabad. Four months ago, Saina had an amazing run in the Beijing Olympics, jolting world No. 5 Chen Wang on her way to the quarterfinals. She made her exit after a close match against Indonesia’s Maria Kristin Yulianti. “I couldn’t understand her game much,” she said about the quarterfinal loss.

Confidence booster

Her Olympics performance, however, raised her confidence level in a big way and changed the way she saw her opponents, said Saina.

The young girl said Gopi Chand played a big role in her success. “If I am No. 10 today, it’s only because of him. He knows me well, motivates me, guides me about my food habits,” she said.