Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal returned to a rousing reception on Tuesday after winning a historic bronze medal at the Olympic Games in London.
Saina was flanked by her father Harvir Singh, coach Pullela Gopichand and several secuity personnel as she arrived in Delhi early Tuesday morning on a British Airways flight.
The 20-year-old showed no signs of jet lag as she smiled and greeted several cheering fans, who jostled to catch a glimpse of her at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, from where she took a connecting flight to her base in Hyderabad.
"It's just unbelievable, I am speechless. I am happy that I actually did what I promised and believed in. It is a dream to win gold but I am happy that at least I have a bronze and am first Indian to win a badminton Olympic medal," said Saina.
Asked how it feels, to have won the Olympic medal, she replied, "From outside, I am normal,and Gopi sir is normal, but inside I am jumping with joy."
Saina bagged the bronze medal in London under fortuitous circumstances when her opponent, world No. 2 Xin Wang, withdrew following a knee injury after leading by a game and 1-0 in the second in the bronze medal contest.
Wang twisted her knee late in the opening game when attempting an acrobatic smash from the rear court.
The Chinese shuttler was unable to continue the contest and the bronze went to Saina, who became only the second Indian woman after weightlifter Karnam Malleswari (bronze in 2000 Sydney) to clinch an Olympic medal.
It was also the country's 10th individual medal since its first -- a bronze -- in 1952 by wrestler Kashaba Jadhav and its third in the ongoing Olympics after rifle shooter Gagan Narang's bronze on July 30 and pistol marksman Vijay Kumar's silver on Monday.
The other badminton players who also landed with Saina were men's singles quarter-finalist P Kashyap and the women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta.
Another coach Edwin Iriawan was also a part of the badminton contingent that returned.