Here’s another one for ace shuttler Saina Nehwal as she reveals to
magazine her dietary preparation to turn World No. 1.
She is one ‘racqueteer’ whom India can be justifiably proud of. In the last few weeks, she has caught the collective imagination of not just her hometown, Hyderabad, but of the country as well. And last month, with 64791.2637 ranking points, she galloped one rank upwards, second only to World No 1 Yihan Wang.
Addicted to winning
Saina says, “The wins have given me a lot of confidence. It feels very good and is a different high.” It is her unblinking focus on winning that has kept 20-year-old Saina going ever since she picked up the racquet at the young age of eight to shuttle across courts, big and small, in the country and abroad.
“More than playing badminton,” she laughs, “I love winning and seeing my photos in the papers. That drove me to play more and more. Even today, I love standing on the podium. Nothing else matters.”
Unlike other teens and growing girls who chill out at coffee shops, stalk sales at malls or continually romance their cells, Saina does none of these…. Ask her if all play did not make her a dull Jill and she ripostes, “I do whatever I am told to do.
So, people believe that Saina will always listen. Basically, I am a nice person. I love the game so much that I want to spend time on the court. Even while growing up I would love working hard. My body would hurt after work outs, but I loved the pain. I want to make myself so perfect that I will become World No 1. That is my target.”
She’s even changed her food habits to up her power quotient. “You must have a good physique in this game,” she says. “I have a strong body. I cannot put on weight. So, I stopped eating oily food and ice creams. Only when I win do I treat myself and eat whatever I want.”
Her mentors and best friends are still her parents and ‘Gopi Sir’ – Pullela Gopichand, the iconic badminton player who is her coach and guide. “I tell my mother everything and try to share as much as possible with her,” says Saina. “It relaxes me after a tough day at sport. My father is very emotional. When he comes to tournaments with me, he gets nervous and so he watches me on television. Gopi Sir is very down to earth and keeps me that way.”
There are three important tournaments on the anvil this year – the World Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. “Winning three tournaments is not easy. People imagine that I will stroll into the No 1 position. I will be happy if I win tournaments. The ranking will automatically come,” Saina says confidently.