With five Indian shuttlers qualifying for the London Games, the country has pinned hopes on badminton fetching medals in the mega event. With the pressure mounting, are the shuttlers intimidated?
Not quite, according to world No. 5 Saina Nehwal. “London is too far away,” the 22-year-old told HT after a hard day’s workout.
“If I think about it, the pressure will add up.”
The Thailand Open and Indonesia Open (a Super Series event she has won twice) slated for next month, Saina is focused on the two events.
With on-court training stretching from early morning till afternoon and off-court drills commencing in the evening, Saina feels expectations are always there. “When we perform, people expect good results. Even in the Beijing Games (2008), expectations were high (she lost in the quarters). But if I keep thinking about it, it wouldn't help me.”
By making the cut in women’s doubles with Ashwini Ponappa and mixed doubles with V Diju, Jwala Gutta became the first Indian to qualify for two doubles events. P Kashyap too qualified for men's singles during the India Open. With only the Swiss Open under her belt this season and the tough Chinese opposition, would it affect her London chances? “In London, it won’t only be the Chinese vying for the title. Practice is fine but it boils down to what happens on that certain day,” Saina predicts.
She is trying her hand at meditation to stay calm prior to the big event, just like mentor P Gopichand when he competed internationally.
The years of hard work paying off, Saina has it all — fame, cars (a BMW will be added to the collection soon) and endorsement deals. So what happens if the hunger to succeed dies? “It never dies if one likes the sport. Had Tendulkar lost the hunger, he would have hung up his boots a long time back. But he's still playing, still winning,” she reasons.