Over the last few days, even as the nation goes ga-ga over PV Sindhu’s silver medal at the Rio Olympics, the fate of another Olympic medallist, Saina Nehwal, has piqued the media’s interest.
However, Nehwal has consciously avoided talking to the media after undergoing surgery on her right knee, which is expected to keep her out of action for at least a few months.
The 26-year-old, who won bronze at the London Olympics, was touted to be a medal contender at Rio but injured herself leading to an early ouster.
Her personal coach Vimal Kumar though believes that the media must give her space at this tough moment.
“This is definitely the toughest moment of her career. She was in good shape and people expected her to win something at Rio. She’s one of the most high-profile athletes in India, so a lot of questions are always asked of her. But then to all of a sudden have such an injury during the tournament is very tough to deal with mentally. It’s very sad to digest, but that is what sport is all about.
“She will have to start from scratch from here on. But it all depends on how she deals with the injury. With the right mindset, the instance can even toughen you up,” Kumar told HT before adding that he himself would not be bothering Nehwal for a few days, but would probably drop by at her Hyderabad house next week.
Kumar also outlined the shuttler’s path for attaining peak fitness in the coming months.
“For the next three-four weeks, she will rest till her knee heals. After that, she will start her rehab where the focus will be on regaining her strength. Having rested for so many days, she will need to get the strength back in her quadriceps and hamstring particularly. We can also try making her hit some standing strokes. As for her rhythm, it will only take her 10 days to get it back,” Kumar added.
Kumar pointed out that even when she found out in Rio that her injury would severely hamper her game, she insisted on playing despite being advised against it.
“Players at this level like Saina or Rafael Nadal will not accept that they cannot play. They will try to play through the pain,” he said.