Saina Nehwal (born 17 March 1990) is one of the finds of Indian sports in 2008!
Saina went down fighting (21-15, 14-21, 21-16) to Chen Wang of Hong Kong in the semi-final in the recent World Super Series Masters – one of the most prestigious and elite Badminton tournaments.
Saina was declared as the ‘most promising player of the year’ by the World Badminton Federation, in its council meeting in Seoul. Her election is made out of three players proposed by the world body ahead of one Korean and one from Pan America.<span class="Apple-style-span" style="color:rgb(
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Saina has been in the peak of her performance this year and became the first Indian women to break into the list of world top-10. She achieved many excellences during this year like reaching the quarterfinals of Beijing Olympics and winning titles at Taipei Open, World Junior championship and Commonwealth Youth Games.
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.
But what is more heartening about Saina is her dedication and committment to her sport – Badminton! In spite of suddenly gaining an iconic status in last year or so – Saina is raely seen in advertisements, promotional campaigns or other social events. Her focus has constantly been to keep improving her game, fitness and ranking. She comes across as very soft-spoken, down-to-earth yet very focussed individual who has her priorities clearly set (towards Badminton and not fashion/ advertisemnts).
Her commitment to sport stands out as a stark contrast to another of India’s (over??) hyped child prodigy – Sania Mirza (born November 15, 1986) – who shook the Indian tennis world just a few years ago. Like Saina (or even to a greater extent) Sania revolutionized tennis – girl’s/ women’s tennis to be precise – in India. As a 16 year old she showed great spark and promise when she participated in Grand Slam. Sania also did quite well to improve her Singles ranking to a career high of 27 …But that was all!
Since then Sania started her journey towards becoming ‘Indian Anna Kournikova’. Sania became a regular in fashion shows/ advertisements than in tennis tournaments and was lured away from the game by the instant stardom. During last year or so her game has so lowered (also because of injuries/ lack of fitness) that she ends year 2008 as ranked 101…yes from a career high of 30 she has droped below 100. What is more disturbing is the fact that she doesn’t seem to care much about it (with her ad campaigns and exclusive photoshoots going in full swing).
There is no denying that Sania has inspired many kids – especially girls – across India to turn pro in. tennis. Though her influence cannot yet be compared to Vishy Anand’s in Chess or Sachin’s in Cricket, she definitely has ability to inspire many more! And that is precisely why I feel that she should be more careful the way she carries in public. Of couse she has every right to behave as she wishes, may
be give up tennis, but still I honestly feel that she can learn a thing or two from Vishy Anand and Sachin who have set exceptionally high standards in the way they behave in their personal and public life.
This reminds me of my favourite movie ‘Good Will Hunting’ which deals with a similar – but not exactly the same – issue; that when a person is gifted or exceptionally talented at something, does he have a duty towards the society to give it back though that talent – or does he, as an individual, has right to do in life what he chooses – even if means completely wasting the gift, the talent…
I immensely liked the film (the idea or the script – to be precise) More about it later…