A huge burden is off my shoulder, says Saina Nehwal

first_imgIt was one prized medal missing from the cabinet of Saina Nehwal. Her failure to go beyond the quarter-finals of the world championships on five previous occasions had set the tongues wagging. Her ability to deliver on the big stage was questioned, too. Though she won an Olympic bronze in 2012, returning empty-handed from the world championships had started playing on Saina’s mind, the ace shuttler revealed.Also read: I am the best, says Saina Nehwal  So when she got down with Vimal Kumar to fine tune her game last September after an expansive period of feeling low, the world championships was high on the priority list. Back to Hyderabad after becoming the first Indian shuttler to win a silver medal at the world championships, Saina can now afford a smile. “It (medal at world championships) was long pending. A lot of people were saying that I do not have a world championships medal and it was something that was playing in my head. That way it is a huge burden off my shoulder,” Saina told Mail Today in an interview. “Yes, I would definitely try to improve on the colour of the medal, be it the Olympics or the world championships. And now that I have a medal in every big event, I will be playing more freely. It will help me win more medals for the country.” When the moment arrived, a normally restrained Saina went berserk in celebrations. She had beaten her long time nemesis Wang Yihan in a high-pressure, high quality quarter-final, displaying extraordinary grit and patience. She threw her racquet while letting up a guttural roar. “The win against Wang Yihan was a very emotional moment. I can’t describe it in words.  I just did not know what to do after the win and I celebrated like that,” she gushed. It indeed was an epic battle on all counts, with both Saina and Wang locked in an intense fight. “It was a long match of one more than an hour and drained out both of us. In the second game I was leading. She is very strong and suddenly I saw the scores levelled 13-13. It was tough but I had to hang on. In the decider, we were winning one-one points and when she took the lead 18-16, I was a little worried. I just gave everything. It was a wonderful match and after the match we had a nice talk.”advertisementAlso read: I was thinking about quitting Badminton last year, says Saina Nehwal Saina has been experiencing a new high this year where she reached the finals of both All England and World Championships for the first time, besides being the World No. 1, a place which she is all set to regain on Thursday. One of the reasons she points out for her recent turnaround is the ‘personal attention’ she is getting at the Prakash Padukone badminton academy in Bangalore under Vimal. “A player at this level cannot get coaching with 10-20 other people around,” she says. “I think I have improved a lot. I am quicker, comfortable in fast-paced rallies. My strokes have improved a little bit more. I am patient on points. All this has happened because of Vimal sir and the personal attention that he is giving me.”Saina of today carries the self belief of beating the best in business. “Vimal sir made me believe like a champion.Also read: PM Narendra Modi congratulates ace shuttler Saina Nehwal  “When you know that you are getting personal attention, your training is going absolutely fine then it fills you with self belief. You are confident while taking on the top players, you can achieve anything.” The 25-year-old is now geared up to prepare herself against recent World Champion Carolina Marin who is proving to be a roadblock for her. “I went into the final thinking that I am going to give my 100 per cent. It was the second game where I made a misjudgment which proved crucial. I went into the quarter-finals and semi-finals with the same thought and I was able to execute. I was confident before final also but in such matches sometimes it happens that you are not able to do it. I have to find a way to beat her, may be next time,” she shrugged. For now Saina, can breathe easy and smile before immersing herself in the punishing grind which has taken her to the pinnacle of world badminton.last_img

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