Saina holds the key to India's fortunes

The hosts will be looking to find the golden path once again

Saina holds the key to India's fortunes

It’s been 28 years since India won a gold medal at the Games. The last of the two gold medals was won by Syed Modi in the 1982 Brisbane Games before Prakash Padukone claimed the first one in the 1978 Edmonton Games. But with recent exploits of Saina and company, under national coach Pullela Gopichand, the home team is expected to end that golden drought.

India will have a glorious chance to win at least three of the six gold medals – mixed team event, singles and doubles of men’s and women’s categories, and mixed doubles -- on offer.

In the last edition in Melbourne, India could only manage only two bronze – Chetan Anand in the men’s singles and in the mixed team event. Without a semblance of doubt, the world number three Saina will hold the key to India’s chances of good perfromance in the October 3-14 event. “We are a better team now compared to the last games. We are capable of winning more than one gold in Delhi,” said Saina.

Saina has got the experience of competing in Melbourne where she was the member of the Indian team. If anyone who could stop the 20-year-old Saina from clinching the gold, then it could be Malaysian Mew Choo Wong, who is ranked 18th in the world.

But in their head-to-head meetings Saina holds the edge with a 3-2 lead. Saina recorded all three victories this year and most recently in the Singapore Open Super Series where she easily beat her rival 21-8, 21-5 in the first round.

If the doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa and the mixed doubles team of Jwala and V Diju carry the firepower with them then India will surely hear the national anthem more than once at the Siri Fort stadium. “In mixed doubles and women’s doubles we are confident of winning medals,” said Jwala.

For world number 13 Diju-Jwala combination, the major threat will be English pairs of world number 12 Nathan Robertson and 27th-ranked Jenny Wallwork and Chris Adcock and Gabriel White. “It will be really nice to win as hosts. We have been working hard for the last few weeks together,” pointed out Diju.

“We have beaten Chris and Gabriel in the only time we played that was last year but we are yet to face Nathan and Jenny,” Diju added. However the home team’s major concern is the form of men’s singles players Chetan Anand and P Kashyap.  Badminton
powerhouse Malaysia will be India's biggest challenge with world number one Lee Chong Wei expected to lead the charge.

India’s record performance by medals came in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games when they took home four medals — two silver and two bronze. There is every possibility that the hosts, with crowd support behind them, will surpass that record in Delhi.

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