London Olympics: I told my dad I was sorry I couldn’t win gold, says Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal

Hail Saina Nehwal the brand new Olympic bronze medallist at the London Olympics. Agreed, the Indian badminton queen did not play her best and luck smiled on her as opponent Xin Wang from China hobbled off the court because of a knee injury.

Sport is about victory and celebrations or losses and tears. On Saturday, it was Saina’s chance to flash that million-watt smile as she wore the bronze medal around her neck after the unfinished playoff.

“I told my dad I was sorry I couldn’t win gold but at least I have a bronze medal. I just can believe it,” said Saina at the press conference.

Having back-pedalled right through the brief contest, when Xin Wang used amazing variety to trouble Saina, the Indian was clueless as to what to do.

As the first game was drawing to a close, there was sudden drama. Xin Wang fell on the ground and was in pain at the score of 20-18. She took a medical time out and resumed play. But in a matter of minutes, after winning one point in the second game, the southpaw Chinese shuttler walked away in tears.

It was mixed emotions for Saina as she knew this was not a match she had won but on a stage as big as the Olympics, what counts is a medal for yourself and the nation.

“I can imagine what kind of celebration this is going to spark off in India,” she said flashing her toothy grin.

So how was Saina going to celebrate? “I am now going to watch movies and I am going to eat chocolates. I don’t care even if I am going to put on weight!” said the Indian badminton queen.

During the brief match, it was Saina under a lot of pressure against the tricky Chinese player. Wang used court craft and huge variety in her game to trouble Saina by smashing and placing the shuttle in different perimeters of the court.

Saina had initially taken a 4-2 lead from where Wang Xin caught up with dexterity. The way the lithe Chinese used her wrist with deception had Saina in trouble. More so when Saina was misjudging the flight of the shuttle on the baseline.

But in a matter of minutes, everything changed. Saina did stage a fight back from 7-14 and caught up before Wang’s knee wrecked it.

“My initial reaction was that Wang was trying to slow it down or she was trying to get her breath back as she fell down. But once I saw her in the second set, I knew her injury was serious,” explained Saina.

Saina told the media she got good sleep last night. “Yes, I did think a lot about the semi-final loss. But I also knew I had to come out fit for the bronze medal playoff,” said Saina.

“Today’s match was very crucial and I knew when I came to these Olympics I had to win a medal. My parents, my coach and all my well-wishers in India have been praying so hard,” said an emotional Saina.

The Indian bronze medallist did admit she was trying too much on court today. “I was in a hurry to play attacking strokes from the beginning. And I was perhaps aware of the expectations back home,” said Saina, whose coloured hairpins held her hair in place neatly.

The atmosphere inside the hall today was fantastic. Wembley is better known for football but these days it is the badminton indoor hall which has been making huge noise.

For the vocal Chinese supporters, this was a big let-down. They had the national flag in place and were loudly cheering star Xin Wang.

The Indian fan base, too, was not to be left behind. Waving the tricolour with gay abandon and cheering Saina in English and Hindi, they were rewarded for their loyalty.

Finally, as Saina won, she broke into a smile and waved to the crowds. In Beijing, she had lost to Indonesian Mariana Yulianti.

To beat a Chinese star is so special, that too with an Olympic medal to boot. While the scorecard may say in result as Xin Wang ‘retired’ what counts is Saina’s medal for India.



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