Badminton is a fast game that has all the qualities that make for top-TRP ‘spectator sports’. So when 19-year-old Saina Nehwal smashed the shuttle cock into the corner of her opponent’s court to win the Indonesian Open badminton title on Sunday, we should have all jumped from our sofas in front of the TV set. No matter if we didn’t. But Saina’s win against the best players of the game is historic enough for us to seriously start believing that here’s a sport ‘telegenic’ enough for us to loudly cheer and bite our nails while watching.
To be on top of the world in your field is a joy that Indian sports has been registering with increasing frequency of late. Olympic medals apart, individual disciplines like shooting, boxing and, now, badminton are showing what India — and Indians — can produce if they put their minds to it.
Ranked World No. 8, Saina’s feat is fantastic especially when we realise that she is the first Indian shuttler to win one of the 12-nation Super Series tournaments — the equivalent of a Grand Slam in tennis. Former World No. 1 Prakash Padukone thinks that Saina has what it takes — physical fitness, sound technique and mental toughness — to become World No. 1. Now that’s worth us following every move Saina makes till she gets there and more.