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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sachin Tendulkar is my source of inspiration: Saina

Sachin Tendulkar is my source of inspiration: Saina

Last updated on: June 7, 2013 09:59 IST

Sachin Tendulkar is my source of inspiration: Saina

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Haresh Pandya

'No country can take India and its badminton players lightly,' London Olympics medalist Saina Nehwal tells Haresh Pandya.

Saina Nehwal leads India's brigade of bright young sportswomen. She is currently ranked No 2 in the world, which speaks volumes about her class in a sport dominated by China.

The bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics was vindication of sorts for the unassuming Nehwal.

You triggered great expectations, thanks to your undoubted talent and excellent form, before the London Olympics in 2012.

You were billed to win the silver medal. Were you satisfied with the bronze you ended up with?

I was tipped to win the gold medal.

Unfortunately, I could not reach that level and I had to be content with the bronze.

No, I was not satisfied. But I was happy that I at least won a medal for my country in badminton.

I desperately want to win the gold medal.

I have age on my side and I will try my best again.

I have been in the World Championship quarter-finals three times. I know I am capable of more.

I have been in the All England Championship semi-finals twice. I want to win it.

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Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters

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'This is just the beginning of my life'

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How do you objectively assess your career? The achievements you are proud of and something you have dreamed of, but still not achieved?

This is just the beginning of my life. I have a long way to go.

I had a dream to be an Olympic player and I became one in 2008. I also wanted to become an Olympic champion and I won the bronze medal in 2012.

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Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters
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'Now many people treat me as if I were a Bollywood star'

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Did the Olympic medal change people's attitude towards you?

In a way, yes. I was already treated as a celebrity, a star. Now many people treat me as if I were a Bollywood star.

It is a nice feeling when people want to meet you, shake your hand and ask for your autograph.

I am always careful not to allow this adulation get the better of me.

I have to win more medals and laurels for my country.

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Image: Saina Nehwal with Rediff reader Saurav

Tags: Bollywood

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'Defeat in the 2008 Olympics was a nightmare'

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What is the most satisfying win of your career? And the worst defeat?

As I grow up, I am satisfied with most of my wins. Every victory has its own importance.

In 2008, I became the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships, which was very satisfying.

I was very happy to win the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 2010. There have been many personally memorable triumphs.

I have enjoyed each and every win in my career.

Of course, there have been many debacles too. I just do not want to recall them.

The defeat in the 2008 Olympics was a nightmare.

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Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Beawiharta/Reuters

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'I like Federer's game, his tenacity'

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Have you modeled your game on anyone?

No. It is my own creation. I have sharpened my skills by working with my coach and my mother.

Your major inspiration?

Roger Federer has been my favorite. I have grown up watching him play, overcoming challenges and defeating the best.

I like his game, his tenacity. He could be a perfect role model.

Sachin Tendulkar has been my source of inspiration. He is a great player and a wonderful person.

What is your idea of a perfect badminton player?

A combination of many factors makes a perfect badminton player. I strongly believe that he or she has to be very aggressive, intelligent, sharp and full of vigour to dominate and win consistently.

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Image: Roger Federer
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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'The backing of one's parents is very essential to be successful, particularly for a female'

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What is your mantra for success?

You have to be confident and disciplined and totally devoted to your sport.

A casual person will not excel in any discipline. Also, the backing of one's parents is very essential to be successful, particularly for a female in a sport like badminton.

You seem to relish singles.

I like to play singles only.

What would you be if you were not a badminton player?

I am a good learner. I guess I would have been either a researcher in agriculture or a medical person.

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Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Tags: badminton

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'No country can take India and its badminton players lightly'

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Do you believe India has become a major force in world badminton?

I think so. India figures prominently in serious discussions about badminton across the world.

No country can afford to take India and its badminton players lightly.

Indian badminton had never been so rich in talented female players. What do you think are the reasons for this?

Frankly, I have no idea. I am too young to have even thought about this.

But it is an encouraging scenario, isn't it?

Where do you think Indian badminton players differ from their other Asian and European counterparts?

We are almost equal and can compete with the best players in the world. I am sure the future stars of badminton will be from India.

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Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Tags: India

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'There is no doubt that India's female players have the upper hand'

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Who, in your view, are more feared in the world -- India's female or male badminton players?

There is no doubt that India's female players have the upper hand at the moment. India's male players, too, are coming up well.

How do you rate your illustrious contemporaries Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa?

They are two of the best players in doubles in India.

Are you happy with the system, the administration and the way badminton players are treated in India?

We hear that talented players like you rise not because of the system but despite the system.

I am sorry I cannot nor do I want to comment on this. I am not concerned with these matters.


Image: Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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