With her outstanding performances over the years Saina Nehwal has certainly revived badminton in India. The ace shuttler is only the second Indian, after Prakash Padukone, to have achieved the top ranking in the sport. The 25-year-old Olympic medallist took some time out from her busy schedule to talk about different topics ranging from her game to Rio Olympics to Sania Mirza and many more with Zee Media correspondent Chaitan Papnai.
Excerpts from the interview:
Preparations for Rio Olympics 2016 are in full swing, what all are the areas and tournaments you are focusing on?
I am not looking for Rio 2016 right now, because there are number of tournaments before that (World Championship, Japan Open, France Open, Denmark Open, Hong Kong Open, India Open and All England). And all these are preparatory to Rio Olympics. So at the moment am focusing on winning the events lined up before the Olympics. Winning these tournaments will make me a contender to Rio. As far as my training schedule is concerned, it’s with my coach Vimal Kumar (sir) and I am sticking with it.
Do you feel that China is still a force to reckon with? Or India and other nations are taking a big leap forward and will dismantle them soon?
China has so much in reserve that they have number of players in each category. If one fails, the other comes, whereas in India, that depth is not there; we have to work hard to produce more and more players in each category. Other countries are also doing equally well. It is time of competition and hard trainings, so every nation is keen to show better results.
Does being a top-ranked player put some extra pressure on you or it gives you an advantage over opponents?
Being a top-ranked player is result of hard work, whosoever works hard is a winner. Pressure is always there. Many a times pressure guides you to work even harder. As far as opponents are concerned, they equally feel the pressure.
As a pupil, how is Vimal Kumar different from Pullela Gopichand?
There is no comparison as both are very good. It is up to trainees what best they can grasp from a coach. Coaches are always better and esteemed.
Does the loss in the All England Open Championship final still pinch you somewhere deep inside?
Loss is a loss. It teaches me to correct my mistakes. But yes, I learnt a lot from that loss.
You and Sania Mirza (hail from same state) have recently created history by reaching at the top of the rankings in your respective sports. What kind of bond do you share?
It is just a co-incidence. Sania is doing very good in Tennis and so am I in badminton. But yes, at last, it's hard work that pays you rich dividends.
Many biopics have been made on the life of Indian sportspersons of late. Do you also wish to see your biopic someday?
It is not my subject, if somebody wants from cine world, they can experiment in sports also.
After the success of Indian Badminton League’s inaugural season, the venture somehow couldn't manage to sustain. Do you see it as a big loss, as far as Indian badminton is concerned?
I can’t answer this question. I am a player; you bring good competitions we will play.
What are the challenges of being a sportswoman in India?
To remain in sports, one has to struggle as in any other field. So difficulties, hardships and opportunities are equal. The best one is gainer.