Father and Coach all praise for Saina Nehwal
“It is a God given gift for all the hard work she has put in. It was lucky the way she won but it was definitely deserving considering that she made badminton her life. She became stone-hearted to achieve her goal. She gave up studies,” said the agricultural scientist during a media interaction at his residence.
A steady stream of media personnel started gathering at the Nehwal residence here in the afternoon as Saina took the court for the bronze medal play-off match against Chinese Xin Wang.
The mood suddenly turned grim after Saina lost the first game 18-21, but it didn’t last long as the Chinese retired hurt in the second game when she was leading 1-0.
Wang, a former World No.1 and current No.2, could not carry on with the right knee injury that she picked up after a heavy landing at the end of the first game.
Harvir, however, believes that his daughter had a fair chance of making a comeback into the game.
“The way the match was going, I think she had a fair chance of winning. The Chinese girl was also tiring,” he said.
World No.5 Saina became the third Indian to win a medal from the 2012 London Games after shooters Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar won bronze and silver, respectively.
Harvir said her daughter was troubled after her loss to World No.1 Wang Yihan in the semi-final that shattered her dream of an Olympic gold.
“Saina had called me at 11 p.m. last night. She sounded disturbed and was worried about her movement on the court. She asked me to come to London but I refused. I just wanted her to concentrate on the next match.”
Saina had made quite a few adjustments in her game besides losing five kilograms in weight and adopting a strict diet chart. It paid dividends as she won back-to-back titles in Thailand and Indonesia in June.
“Those two victories came as a result of the changes she made in her daily routine. She used to train two-three hours extra. She got four endorsements after that but we refused. An Olympic medal was the only thing on her mind,” Harvir added.
Minutes after Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal was awarded the women’s singles bronze medal play-off against Xin Wang of China Saturday, mentor and coach Pullela Gopichand said she would have won anyway if the match had gone on in spite of Saina losing the first game.
“It was unfortunate that Wang had to retire. I feel that Saina would have won anyway if the match would have gone on,” said national coach Gopichand here at the Wembley Arena.
“It is a great victory and this is huge for Indian badminton. Saina was shocked when she lost the first game. Nevertheless a win is a win,” added Gopi Chand.
A former All England champion, Gopichand also felt that the Chinese shuttler was getting a little weary as the match progressed.
“She was a little tired and I think she pushed herself a little too much.”
Saina Nehwal’s Olympic bronze medal ended India’s badminton campaign on a successful note. Earlier in the tournament, Parupalli Kashyap became the first male player from the country to reach the quarters only to lose against top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.