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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

Other Sport

Saina leads Indian shuttlers' quest for Olympic glory
PTI
New Delhi, July 06, 2012
First Published: 14:38 IST(6/7/2012)
Last Updated: 11:58 IST(9/7/2012)

Once a rising star and now a revered icon, Saina Nehwal will without doubt shoulder a huge burden of expectations at the Olympics but there could be a couple of surprise success stories apart from her when an unprecedented five-strong Indian badminton contingent takes the court in London.

India will be fielding three women and two men at the mega-event -- which is a first in the history of the game and all eyes will be on Saina and doubles player Jwala Gutta as they seek to break the Olympic jinx this time.

But P Kashyap, in men's singles, is the proverbial dark horse who might share the limelight with Saina given his giant-killing credentials.

Four summers ago, Saina was a rising Indian star but even then the Hyderabadi had stamped her authority when she became the first Indian woman shuttler to enter the quarterfinal at Beijing Games.

She had lost to Indonesian Maria Kristin Yulianti then after leading the third set 11-3. The defeat haunted her for many nights and it would be an opportunity to exorcise the ghosts of 2008.

Needless to say, Saina is much more experienced now. From being a talent looking to get a foothold in international badminton to a superstar, she has covered the distance in quick time, going from strength to strength.

In the last four years, the Indian has won five Super Series titles -- Indonesia (2009, 2010, 2012), Singapore (2010) and Hong Kong (2010) -- and reached the finals of Malaysia Super Series, Indonesia Super Series and Super Series Masters Final last year.

She has also won the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold in 2011 and 2012, besides clinching the Commonwealth Games gold and India Open Grand Prix in 2009 and India Open Grand Prix Gold in 2010.


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