Saina Nehwal celebrates after wining the match against Chinese Xin Wang during the Women,s Singles Bronze Medal match at Wembley Arena on Saturday. PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist
Medals don't come about by mere chance, they come from strategy. Saina Nehwal earned India’s first badminton Olympic medal — a bronze — when Wang Xin’s left knee refused to bear her medal hopes.
A fall at the end of the first game saw the Chinese unable to carry on and the board read 18-21, 0-1 retired. However, the scampering around that forced the fall was on account of the incessant pressure the Indian had built up.
“The game plan was to keep the rallies long and wear her down,” Nehwal said.
China's Wang Xin is attended by team officials as she sits down in pain while playing against Saina Nehwal in a women's singles badminton bronze medal match at Olympic Games in London. PTI photo
“When she fell, I thought she was just playing for time as she was getting visibly tired.”
The longest rally of the match in the middle of the first game went to 41 strokes. With the score 10-15 in her favour, Wang seemed to be looking for reasons to slow down the game. Even as Nehwal wiped her brow and got ready for the next point, her opponent kept asking for the court to be wiped, citing that it was too slippery. Over the next few points she repeatedly bent over, leaned on her racquet and kept heaving for air.
Nehwal was gracious in victory, choosing not to celebrate the walkover win. But she was all smiles as she draped the Indian flag around her. "It was unfortunate Wang had to retire," coach Pullela Gopichand said later. "But I feel Saina would have won anyway if the match had gone on."