National badminton champion Saina Nehwal does not care much for training abroad. If a player has the ability to face tough situations in a match he or she can beat anyone, she says, but adds that it is a must to have a mentor who can guide and motivate a player.
"I don't think training overseas makes you a different player. If you have potential and the right attitude towards the game you can beat anyone, but you should have a good coach," said 17-year-old Saina on the sidelines of the first Pramod Mahajan All-India national ranking badminton tournament here at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
"But you need to play a lot of international tournaments for exposure," Saina told IANS in an interview.
The 2006 Philippines Open champion asserted that the infrastructure and training facilities for the game in the country are no worse than anywhere else. To illustrate the point, she said last year's Sports Authority of India (SAI) camp in Bangalore before the Sudirman Cup went a long way to help her improve her game.
"We have a very good coach in Gopi Sir (former Olympian and former All England Open champion Pullela Gopichand). He has seen it at the highest level and he is no less competent than any foreign coach.
"Last year's SAI camp has helped me and other players a lot. My endurance level has improved. Even after the camp everyone is playing well on the circuit," said Saina, ranked 27th in the world.
Though Saina has achieved the biggest dream of her life, a ticket to the Beijing Olympics, she is realistic about her chances in the Games. "I realise winning the gold at the Olympics is what matters most."
But this time she is not expecting anything big, though she will do her best.
"For a proper draw I need to hold on to my ranking or improve it, but I am not expecting anything big at the Games," Saina said.
With an improved defence and footwork, the national champion wants to make it big on the international circuit this year.
"This season I am in good form. My main aim is to play well in the international events and I am confident about doing so.
"Last year I was a little tense which reflected in my game, but this year I am in a positive frame of mind."