It’s been a year of awards for badminton champion Saina Nehwal. Sadly, she couldn’t attend even one occasion to pick them up personally. And the accolades continue to come her way. The ace shuttler, beating quite a few tough competitors, has been named as
Sports Illustrated India’s
‘Sportsperson of the Year,’ beating the likes of cricketer MS Dhoni and Olympian boxer Vijender Singh.
She is understandably ecstatic. “It’s an honour,” she says, speaking to
from the Malaysian Open Grand Prix. “I don’t know whether I’ll be able to receive this one or not, I’ve already missed so many,” she adds. “Saina’s been playing really well this year, and deserves this,” says coach and India’s top ranked badminton player, Pulela Gopichand.
Shooting into the world top 10 and winning as many as 11 majors in six years, Saina has a lot to her credit. “We have to realise she’s only 19. At that age I wasn’t half as good,” says former All England champion Prakash Padukone. So what sets her apart? “Her work ethics. She is extremely hard working,” says Gopichand.
Her proud father Harvir Singh says Saina has an amazing ability to stay focussed. “Even after all the media attention, she’s just the same and thinks only about her game,” he says.