Saina Nehwal has been a shining light for aspiring Indian shuttlers ever since her triumphant outing at the London Olympics in 2012. She became the first Indian badminton player to win an Olympic medal, after bagging bronze in London in the women’s singles event. Saina Nehwal also is the only Indian to win the BWF World Junior Championships. At 29, she is still challenging for major honours on the international stage. We’ve put together a short summary of her journey as a youngster in Hisar to winning bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
Indian badminton ace - Saina Nehwal - was born to parents Harvir Singh Nehwal and Usha Rani in 1990. She grew up in Hisar district in Haryana. As a child, she was pushed to take up karate at a very young age. Saina’s dad, Harvir Singh, was a district badminton champion in Haryana and so was her mom - Usha. Saina Nehwal used to accompany her mom to the local club in Haryana itself.
Eventually, Saina took up badminton and began training under Nani Prasad. Later on, she was under the tutelage of Arjuna award-winning badminton coach - SM Arif. Saina Nehwal did not give up on her studies while training and finished her schooling from St. Ann’s college in Hyderabad. Saina Nehwal used to start her training at 4 am in the morning and travelled a distance of almost 25 km to make it to a proper training facility.
Saina started her pro career in 2004. She quickly rose to fame after she became the first player to win the Asian Satellite Badminton Tournament on two occasions. She was also the youngest Asian to win a four-star tournament after winning the Philippines Open in 2006 at the tender age of 16. After defeating Wang Lin of China in 2009, Saina Nehwal became the first Indian to win the BWF Super Series title.
Arguably, the 29-year old’s greatest achievement is the bronze medal that she won at the 2012 London Olympics. She also has 12 national senior/junior titles to her name. Saina Nehwal has 22 titles till date and is on par with the likes of Prakash Padukone, Pullela Gopichand and PV Sindhu as one of the greatest shuttlers the nation has ever produced. Saina was also bestowed with the Padma Bhushan award in 2016 which is the country's third-highest civilian award.
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