Saina wants best-ever finish

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Mar 2018 11:18:43



MEMORIES of a path-breaking 2010 CWG gold are still fresh in her mind as Saina Nehwal embarks on a quest to regain the title at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next month.Eight summers ago, a 20-year-old Saina stood on the podium with the gold medal around her neck on the final day to not only become the first Indian woman to achieve the feat but also take the country to the second position ahead of England with a gold count of 38 in the overall medal’s tally. “India was second in overall medal tally in 2010. On the last day we were on 99 medals and Indian hockey (men) and badminton women’s singles were left for last day. I won gold and in hockey we were runners up,” recalled Saina. “I felt so happy to be on the podium with the national tri-colour that I cannot forget it.”

“2006 CWG Melbourne was my debut and we won bronze in team event where my role was also a major one as I won women’s singles event for the team. My journey in CWG has been fantastic,” Saina said. “Of course, in 2014, I had a lot of injury issues, so I did not participate,” she added, referring to the Glasgow edition where she pulled out after failing to recover from blisters and a groin injury sustained during the Australian Open Super Series.
This time, India are seeded top in the mixed team event and Saina has no doubt they would do well.“Certainly we will be winners in most of the events, lookingat our strength in all disciplines of team events as well as individual events in badminton,” she said.

Saina, who won a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, had to endure a tough phase in 2014 when she even thought of quitting badminton due to a series of defeats.
However, after the Uber Cup, she decided to shift base to Bangalore and train under Vimal Kumar. It worked as she won the 2014 China Open and 2015 India Open, reached the finals of All England and the World Championships i 2015 and also became the World no. 1.However, injuries came back to haunt her again as she developed an Achilles tendonitis, which took a long time to heal. She returned to win the Australian Open.But just days ahead of the Rio Olympics, she suffered an intra-articular injury to her right knee and had to go under the knife after her early ouster from the Games.

However, Saina is in good shape now and along with Sindhu, an Olympic silver medallist, will start favourite to win the gold. They will face stiff challenge from defending champion Michelle Li of Canada and Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour, who had won the silver at the Glasgow Games.
“...These girls are doing well and even Malaysian girls are also doing well. I wish them all the best for success. Earlier Tracey (Hallam) from UK was a big force and girls from Singapore were also very good players.”Saina is not thinking much ahead and wants to just focus on fitness and taking care of herself in the run-up to the Games.“If you are fit, achievements will come your way.”