Saina eager to add one more feather

Last Updated : 25 September 2010, 13:49 IST
Last Updated : 25 September 2010, 13:49 IST

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The world number three, who is in stupendous form this season, is gearing up to traverse yet another uncharted territory by an Indian woman shuttler by targeting the Commonwealth Games gold.

Going by her record this year, the 20-year-old sensation, who will be one of the star attractions of the Delhi meet, will be the hot favourite to pocket the singles gold medal.
“It will be fantastic if you win at home, especially in big events like the Commonwealth Games. I will put up my best effort to win the gold in Delhi,” Saina said.

Several top global athletes are giving the Games a miss but Saina has been working hard, focused on doing well for her country. “My aim is to win a medal for the country at the CWG. I have been training hard for the CWG. I have prepared well and am keeping my focus only the job on hand,” stressed Saina.

“If top athletes are not coming, then it will be big loss for the spectators. People come to watch good competition and if a top athlete in that event is not there, then obviously the crowd will be disappointed,” added Saina, who is one of the brand ambassadors for the October 3-14 meet.

She said she is looking forward to competing at the Siri Fort Stadium, the venue of the badminton events.  “I played the Asian Championship at Siri Fort. So I have a good feel of the courts. It can match the best stadiums in the world,” Saina said.

Saina’s career blossomed after the Melbourne Games and so she is keen to do well in the event. Four years ago, then coach Vimal Kumar gave the 15-year-old a chance to prove her mettle. She didn’t disappoint, helping her team win the bronze by beating New Zealand’s Rebecca Leigh Bellingham 21-13, 24-22 in the women’s singles match.

The Hyderabadi has not looked back since then, rising to stardom and becoming the face of Indian badminton, setting benchmarks on the way for her team-mates to emulate.
“I started my career at the Melbourne Games (2006) where we won a bronze in the team event. My career picked up from there. It was a dream start which gave me lot of confidence. Playing against players like Rebecca was a great experience,” pointed out Saina. This time, the situation is different as Saina, the top-ranked player in the squad, will have to shoulder the responsibility of leading the team. Moreover, she has to handle the pressure of playing at home.

“I am used to playing in such situations. I won the Indian Open in Chennai this year. Yes, there will be more pressure when it comes to a mega event and the expectations will also be more in Delhi. But when you have the confidence, nothing will affect your performance,” said the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award winner.

“England, Malaysia and Singapore are good teams. We also have good and experienced players in our side. Overall, the competition will be tough. I think if we play to our potential, winning three medals will not be difficult,” added Saina.

In the absence of badminton powerhouses like China and Indonesia -- who are not part of the Commonwealth -- Malaysia's Mew Choo Wong would be the main hurdle for Saina, who holds a 3-2 record over her rival. “Mew is an unpredictable player but I beat her three times this year. All my losses came three years back when I started my career. I hope I can better her at the CWG," said Saina.

After enjoying Super Series successes at Singapore and Indonesia in June, Saina’s form faded a little as she bowed out of the World Championships at the quarterfinal stage.
"It happens. When you play at the international level, you lose badly sometimes. I made some silly mistakes. I was disappointed at the loss but you have to take the defeats in your stride and move on," she pointed out.

Saina, who has slipped one spot to world number three, said she is working hard on her movement and defence. “There are a few grey areas that need to be sorted out before the CWG. One is movement and other is defence. Then you go there and give your best and hope for the best,” Saina signed off.

Published 25 September 2010, 13:48 IST

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