Shuttlers Ashwani Ponnappa and Saina Nehwal (R) at a press conference ahead of the second edition of Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2012 OSIM BWF World Superseries badminton tournament in New Delhi. HT Photo/M Zhazo
Sania Nehwal was amused when she was bombarded with questions regarding her ‘weight loss programme.’ Any other woman would have ranted on how she achieved the impossible - losing five-and-half kilos post her Swiss Open victory in March.
But Saina’s reply, “looks like this has become national news,” prompted laughter from the media, present at a function to announce the India Open Super Series (April24-29).
“It was Gopi sir’s plan,” she said referring to chief national coach Pullela Gopi Chand.
"It was a decision which was taken to improve my speed and it has worked. I already feel it in my strokes,” the world No. 5 said, who was present with the rest of the national squad in the city for a day. The squad will depart for China on Sunday for the Badminton Asian Championship (BAC) which starts on April 17.
Ajay Jayaram, the top ranked Indian in the men's singles, expressed confidence ahead of the two crucial tournaments. He is currently ranked 27 - four places above P Kashyap - and has a chance to qualify for the London Olympics. The BAC and India Open are the last two tournaments of the Olympic qualification year, which ends April 30.
“I think Ajay fully deserves it. He has been working very hard and his game has been good,” Kashyap said. “I was suffering from injury from early this year which has affected my performance. I still need to work on my fitness,” he added, hinting that the 1000-odd ranking points gap would be hard to make up.
Gopi Chand said that all players including Saina, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa and V Diju have been preparing extensively over the last four weeks. “PV Sindhu and Sourabh Verma have been playing a lot of tournaments so we decided to rest them for the BAC. This will give them a chance to focus on the India Open,” he said.