Saina best bet for Oly medal, but needs to work hard: Natekar
Mumbai: Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal is India`s best bet to win a medal in badminton at the London Olympics but will have to work hard to overcome the domination by Chinese players, feels former great Nandu Natekar.
"She is the only one who has reached that level...been in the top five for sometime. So naturally, she is the best hope. But it has to be seen what kind of effort she puts in ahead of the Olympics," the Pune-based Natekar said on the sidelines of an event, where he was felicitated along with former billiards world champion Michael Ferreira.
The Hyderabadi hasn`t been in the best of form for a major part of 2011, largely due to injuries.
However, Natekar felt it was a result of taking on the Chinese players day in, day out.
"It has been probably difficult for her to keep on passing one Chinese after another. She probably needs a little more effort and confidence to surpass the Chinese. Chinese are the best and when you are playing one Chinese after another, it is difficult," he added.
The Arjuna awardee, who will turn 79 in May, said Saina needs to work on a few aspects of her game.
"Picking of the drop... and when it comes to very long rallies, I feel she falters...cannot sustain it. She will have to work on them," he said.
He said the women`s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponappa and mixed doubles pair of Jwala/ V Diju too could do well in the Olympics if they get a couple of good matches.
"Jwala Gutta/V Diju and Gutta/Ponappa have also done well in the past. If they have one or two good matches, it might do the trick, who knows! Saina is our best bet. But let us wait for the qualifications first," he said.
Natekar, who along with Ferreira, was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by One Sports, was touched with the honour and said it showed people haven`t forgotten him as yet.
"I will be touching 80 in another four months. I`ve not been associated with badminton for the past 25 years. So to receive this award at this age is very special. It means people still remember my contribution," he said.