Indian athletes are expected to win medals in a handful of disciplines at the London Olympics, but none is closer to the goal than badminton star Saina Nehwal.
Four years ago when she played at the Beijing Olympics she was a teen, and at 18 years of age she became the first Indian to enter the badminton quarterfinals at the Olympics. Now the Haryana-born champion is heading for London with confidence, experience and with several titles won recently. Saina spoke to IANS on her Olympic chances with maturity and confidence.
Q – How do you rate your chances of winning a medal at London Olympics?
A – Olympics is the highest level of the game and a dream for any sportsperson. I can only hope and try, cannot predict.
Q – How are your preparations for Olympics going?
A – I am going through intensive practice sessions with four other Olympics-bound shuttlers at the Gopichand Badminton Academy. Our preparations are going in the right direction under the watchful eyes of my coach.
Q – So you are physically and mentally geared up for the challenge?
A – Yes, I am and looking forward to London. Let's wait and see what London holds for me. My coach Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) and the team are doing their best to help me with my game and build confidence level.
Q – Chinese players have been dominating the women’s badminton for long. Have you worked out a strategy with your coaches to tackle the Chinese?
A – It is all spontaneous and depends on how our strategy will work that particular day; we are concentrating on skills, stamina and my speed.
Q – You have defeated all top players of the world except current number one Wang Yihan, one of the three Chinese who will be in action in the women's singles at the London Olympics. Are you confident of beating Wang this time?
A – Let us see what happens. I will give my 100 percent in all of the matches. I believe that all opponents are going to be tough as every player is working very hard for the prestigious competition.
Q – You will be leading the Indian badminton challenge at London. How does it feel?
A – It is indeed a matter of pride to represent my country in a second Olympics. I hope my other four friends will also be elated like me to be the part of Indian team.
Q – Will you be under pressure of nation’s expectations?
A – No, it all boils down to what happens on that particular day against an opponent. I believe in hard work and leave the rest to the Almighty.
(By Mohammed Shafeeq- email@example.com)