Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Asian Games will be far more difficult: Saina

Saina Nehwal delighted with her Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning show, but faces reality too
Badminton has never witnessed such adulation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Congress icon Rahul Gandhi watched in awe as Saina Nehwal claimed her Commonwealth Games gold last Thursday.

Saina's epic win over Malaysia's Wong Mew Choo probably allowed Indians to forget all the corruption associated with organisation of this CWG edition. SUNDAY MiD DAY caught up with Saina recently.


You threw your gold-winning racquet into the crowd after winning the last point...It was just an emotional thing. The crowd and their support meant so much to me all through those 10 days in Delhi. It was just a small token of my appreciation to those fans. Part of my victory was dedicated to them and the other part for my parents, family, coaches and other well-wishers, who could not make it to Delhi, but watched me on TV. My thanks to all of them!
How much credit would you give your coaches for this gold medal?Gopi sir (P Gopichand) has been such a big help right through my career. Others too have helped on and off, but Gopi sir has been my constant trainer and motivator. The final was a very tense affair and he kept telling me to be patient at all times. At each break, he urged me not to lose my cool - just play deep shots and follow your instincts, he told me. I can never thank him enough.
How difficult was the final?Mee Chew Wong made me give off my very best. I think this was the most difficult match I've ever played. My God, I think you told me this match went to 74 minutes even more than my team finals against her. She never gives up and I had to keep pace with Wong.

In terms of patience, stamina, retrieving abilities and change of pace in almost each rally, the match was very, very difficult for me. The fact that we had to be aware of the court draught on each stroke meant that the match was mental as well. Any one could have won gold. I am just happy I was the lucky one
that day.
India's badminton showing in the CWG was creditable. How will this help the game in India?I think many children may want to take it up. The crowds were so fantastic and I am sure that from now on, they will follow us everywhere.

I hope India organises more international events as that will bring game more into the limelight. I also hope that more girls take up the sport now. Thanks to India's CWG performance, people have so many more sporting heroes to look up to.
Where do you go from here?
Well, the Asian Games will be held within a month. And knowing Gopi sir, it will be back to training soon. The Asian Games will be far more difficult, but I am confident of doing well. When you are playing for the country, it brings out something more in you.

I know what sort of opposition I will get in China and I am prepared for everything. With this CWG gold, I think I will be able to play with more determination. I want to bring India its first individual badminton medal at the Asian Games.
Has the ghost of the last Olympics now been laid to rest? Please do not remind me of that match. I still have nightmares thinking about it. In a way, that defeat from a winning position in Beijing 2008 made me more determined. I was only 18 then.

Now, I am more matured. The CWG gold will help, but then, losing an Olympic medal is something that will haunt me forever or at least till I win one at the London Games in 2012.
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