Golden Olympian

Topics: Olympic Games, Single-elimination tournament, Badminton World Federation Pages: 3 (884 words) Published: October 21, 2010
Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal (born March 17, 1990) is an Indian Khel Ratna winning badminton player currently ranked number 2 in the world by Badminton World Federation, Saina is the first Indian woman to reach the singles quarterfinals at the Olympics and the first Indian to win theWorld Junior Badminton Championships.

Her Early days

Saina was born in 1990 in a Yadav family from Haryana. In December 1998, Saina's father took her to meet Coach Nani Prasad at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad. Seeing potential in the girl, Prasad asked Singh to enroll Saina as a summer trainee.

Harvir Singh and Saina, who was 8 years old at the time, would wake at 4am every morning and head to the stadium which was 25 km away. After two hours of practice, Singh would drop Saina at school on his way to work. Saina would often fall asleep on these journeys which prompted her mother to accompany them for the next three months.

Traveling nearly 50 km a day in order to accommodate the training schedule, Singh eventually decided to move closer to the stadium in 1999. However, this didn’t end the traveling ordeal, as Saina was asked to attend evening training sessions as well. With the extra training sessions, traveling expenditure rose phenomenally. Adding the cost of equipment (including shuttles, rackets, shoes, gutting) meant that expenses rose to over Rs. 12,000 per month.

In order to keep up with the rising cost of her training, Saina’s father withdrew money from his savings and provident fund. The tight-rope walk continued until 2002, when sports brand Yonex offered to sponsor Saina’s kit. As her status and rankings improved, the sponsorships increased. In 2004, BPCL signed the rising star onto their payroll, and in 2005 she was spotted by the Mittal Champions Trust. She is also supported by Olympic Gold Quest.

Saina is the reigning Under-19 national champion. Also a regular in the senior circuit where she lost to former India number one Aparna Popat, Saina...
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