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Smashing act

Last Updated : 27 June 2010, 16:13 IST
Last Updated : 27 June 2010, 16:13 IST

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An unprecedented third major crown in as many weeks is a testament to the giant strides Saina Nehwal has taken in recent times. The most glittering jewel in India’s badminton crown has graduated from being very good to a potential great. Still only 20, the Hisar-born shuttler with wrists, as well as nerves, of steel has the world at her feet. The points gained from her latest triumph, in the Indonesia Super Series on Sunday, are almost certain to propel her to second in world rankings, already an exceptional accomplishment given the iron hand with which the Chinese women have dominated the sport for over two decades. For nearly a year now, Saina has repeatedly stated her desire and determination to scale the summit and occupy the number one position. With her on-court heroics, she has made it clear that that is no empty boast.

The Hyderabad-based Saina has had to perform in the giant shadow of her city-mate whose first name too has the same letters. Sania Mirza has been in the news for a long time now for all kinds of reasons, though gradually, it is becoming increasingly obvious that she will never touch the peaks Saina has in her chosen sport. While Sania has basked in the attention, Saina has gone about her business without fuss, putting in the hard yards and careful not to rest on her laurels. She typifies the new-age Indian who doesn’t settle for second-best, though she has also imbibed qualities from the old-age Indian that include not cutting corners and playing the game in its true spirit.

Indian badminton is replete with examples of champions who have debunked the myth that nice guys finish last. First, Prakash Padukone, then Pullela Gopichand both showed that one doesn’t need to be brash and arrogant to embrace success. The two All-England champions have set an example well worth emulating, and Saina is merely carrying forward that tradition. While it’s inevitable that the nation will bask in glory and feel justifiably proud of the youngster’s stirring deeds, it is well worth recognising the fact that success hasn’t come her way by chance. Saina is what she is today because she works exceptionally hard, because she is supremely skillful, because she has the temperament, and because she has excellent training facilities and coaching inputs. But most of all, because she has the heart, and the ambition.

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Published 27 June 2010, 16:13 IST

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