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Saina Nehwal

Saina NehwalSaina Nehwal (born 17 March 1990) is an Indian badminton player who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world by Badminton World Federation. She will become the No.1 ranked player in the world when the official BWF rankings are released next week after she qualified for the finals of the Indian Open and her competitor Carolina Marin lost in the semi-finals. She is the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics. She achieved this feat by winning the Bronze medal at the London Olympics 2012 on 4 August 2012. She is the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships and was also the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, by clinching the Indonesia Open on 21 June 2009. She also won the 2014 China Open Super Series Premier in November, 2014. Saina is supported by the Olympic Gold Quest. On March 7, 2015, she reached the finals of the All England Open Badminton Championship where she lost to Carolina Marin in three sets.

Saina was initially coached by S. M. Arif a Dronacharya Award winner, and then by Pullela Gopichand till 2014 September. Saina is the reigning Indian national champion and is currently coached by the former Indian badminton champion and national coach U. Vimal Kumar. Saina Nehwal plays for Hyderabad Hotshots in Indian Badminton League.

Personal information

  • Date of birth – March 17, 1990
  • Place of birth – Hisar, Haryana, India
  • Handedness – Right
  • Coach: Pullela Gopichand
  • Highest Ranking – 2 (July 15, 2010)
  • Current Ranking – 3 (Sept. 23, 2010)
  • Weight – 132 lbs (60 kg)
  • Height – 5’5” (1.67 m)

Early Years

Saina was born in the city of Hisar in Haryana, India. Her foray into the world of badminton was influenced by her father Dr. Harvir Singh, a scientist at the Directorate of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad and her mother Usha Nehwal, both of whom were former badminton champions in Haryana.

In December 1998, Saina’s father took her to meet Coach Nani Prasad at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad. Seeing potential in the girl, Prasad asked Singh to enroll Saina as a summer trainee.

Harvir Singh and Saina, who was 8 yrs old at the time, would wake up at 6 every morning and head to the stadium which was 20 km away. After two hours of practice, Singh would drop Saina to school on his way to work. Saina would often fall asleep on these journeys which prompted her mother to accompany them for the next three months.

Traveling nearly 50 km a day in order to accommodate the training schedule, Singh eventually decided to move closer to the stadium in 1999. This however didn’t end the traveling ordeal as Saina was asked to attend evening training sessions as well. With the extra training sessions, traveling expenditure rose phenomenally. Added to the cost of equipment including shuttles, rackets, shoes, gutting and expenses rose to over Rs. 12,000 per month.

In order to keep up with the rising cost of her training, Saina’s father withdrew money from his savings and provident fund. The tight-rope walk continued until 2002, when sports brand Yonex offered to sponsor Saina’s kit. As her status and rankings improved, the sponsorships increased. In 2004, BPCL signed the rising star onto their payroll, and in 2005 she was spotted by the Mittal Champions Trust.

Career Summary

Saina Nehwal is an Indian Khel Ratna winning badminton player currently ranked number 3 in the world by Badminton World Federation. Saina is the first Indian woman to reach the singles quarterfinals at the Olympics and the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships. Saina Nehwal made history on June 21, 2009, becoming the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, by clinching the Indonesia Open with a stunning victory over higher-ranked Chinese Wang Lin in Jakarta. (The Super Series tournament is roughly equivalent to a Grand Slam in tennis).

Saina won her second career Super Series title by winning the Singapore Open title on June 20, 2010. She completed a hat-trick in the same year by winning the Indonesian Open on June 27, 2010. This win resulted in her rise to 3rd ranking and subsequently to No. 2. This remains her highest career ranking.

Saina is the reigning Under-19 national champion. Also a regular in the senior circuit where she lost to former India number one Aparna Popat, Saina created history by the winning the prestigious Asian Satellite Badminton tournament (India Chapter) twice, becoming the first player to do so.

In 2006, Saina appeared on the global scene when she became the first Indian woman to win a 4-star tournament, the Philippines Open Entering the tournament as the 86th seed, Saina went on to stun several top seeded players including number seed Huaiwen XU before defeating Julia Xian Pei Wong of Malaysia for the title. The same year also saw Saina as runner up at the 2006 BWF World Junior Championships, where she lost a hard fought match against top seed Chinese Wang Yihan. She did one better in the 2008 by becoming the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships by defeating ninth seeded Japanese Sayaka Sato 21-9, 21-18.

She became the first Indian woman to reach the quarter finals at the Olympic Games when she upset world number five and fourth seed Wang Chen of Hong Kong in a three-game thriller. In the quarter-finals Saina lost a nail biting 3-gamer to world number 16 Maria Kristin Yulianti. In September 2008, she won the Yonex Chinese Taipei Open 2008 beating Li Ya Lydia Cheah of Malaysia 21-8 21-19 . Maria Yulianti had earlier lost her quarter-final match to Pia Bernadet, Saina’s semi-final opponent, thus denying Saina a rematch.

Saina is all set to take on the world Top ten, having been named The Most Promising Player in 2008.

She won the 2006 Phillipines Open to become first Indian woman to win a four-star badminton event. Entering the tournament as the 86th seed, Saina went on to stun several top seeded players including number seed Huaiwen XU before defeating Julia Xian Pei Wong of Malaysia for the title.

She was also the runner up at the 2006 BWF World Junior Championships.

In the month of June, she qualified to the quarter final of Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold and the semi-final of the Singapore Super Series 2008.

She was a silver medallist at the last edition in Incheon, South Korea in 2006.

She became the first Indian woman to reach the quarter finals at the Olympic Games when she upset world number five and fourth seed Wang Chen of Hong Kong.

She also won the Yonex Chinese Taipei Grand Prix in September, her second GP.

In the recently concluded Commonwealth Youth Games, Nehwal continued to shine as she clinched the gold.

For the first time since she started performing well on the big stage, the 16-year-old has landed three endorsement deals. According to Globosport, the sports management firm which had signed up the youngster a year ago, each of the three deals is worth between ₹ 10-15 lakh.

As a confirmation of her rising popularity among the youth, top music channel MTV has roped in Saina as their latest ‘Youth Icon’.

Career Highlights

  • Czechoslovakia Junior Open Tournament – 2003
  • Silver in Commonwealth Young Game in Australia – 2004
  • Asian Satellite Badminton Tournament – 2004
  • Runner up in World Junior Badminton Championship – 2006
  • Bronze medal in Commonwealth Young Game – 2006
  • Philippines Open Grand Prix – 2006
  • Reach to Quarter Final in Beijing Olympic 2008
  • Winner of Chinese Taipei Grand Prix Gold Open Badminton Tournament – 2008
  • Winner of Indian National Badminton Championships – 2008
  • 1 Gold in Commonwealth Youth Games – 2008
  • Winner of BWF World Junior Championships – 2008
  • Semifinalist of BWF Super Series Masters finals – 2008
  • Winner of Indonesia Super Series – 2009
  • Quarter-finalist in BWF World Championships – 2009
  • Winner of Indian Open Grand Prix – 2009
  • Semifinalist in All-England Super Series – 2010
  • 3 Bronze in Badminton Asia Championships – 2010
  • Winner of India Open Grand Prix Gold – 2010
  • Winner of Singapore Open Super Series – 2010
  • Winner of Indonesia Open Super Series – 2010
  • Quarter-finalist in BWF World Championships – 2010

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