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Peerless Saina

Peerless Saina
Highlights

Peerless Saina.The weekend marks rendering of a poetic of justice of the sports variety, one that took all of 14 years to fructify. Way back in 2001 when Pullela Gopichand stunned the world and became only the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to win the coveted All England Badminton Championship, there was no media hype.

Saina Nehwal has timed her crowning glory to perfection. The new numero uno, who has inspired a generation of young girls with her trail-blazing conquests, has realized her potential while winning the India Open on Sunday

The weekend marks rendering of a poetic of justice of the sports variety, one that took all of 14 years to fructify. Way back in 2001 when Pullela Gopichand stunned the world and became only the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to win the coveted All England Badminton Championship, there was no media hype. His spectacular achievement was relegated to the back pages because Harbhajan Singh was front-page news after he accomplished a Test hat-trick against Australia at Eden Gardens on the same day. A phenomenal badminton achievement got buried because India is a cricket-mad nation. Although Singh was not the first Indian to take a hat-trick, it had more ‘readership’ value than an All England title!

Today, Gopichand must be chuckling to himself because his one-time protégé has turned the clock by applying balm to the wounds inflicted by Indian cricketers, whose abject surrender in the World Cup broke a billion hearts just the other day. On that count, Saina Nehwal, has timed her crowning glory to perfection. The new numero uno, who has inspired a generation of young girls with her trail-blazing conquests, has realized her potential while winning the India Open on Sunday. In a way, Nehwal has also achieved something even more significant. The Union Government might still be apprehensive about China on the Arunachal Pradesh and Dalai Lama fronts, but she has successfully breached the near-impregnable China Wall with her mastery acts.

By dethroning Olympic champion Li Xuerui as the world number one woman player, the Haryanvi, who is currently based in the Garden City, has silenced her critics once and for all. So where does she go from here on. There is no denying the age-old gospel that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. And that is precisely where her immediate priorities ought to change. For one who has shouldered the responsibilities and expectations of millions of countrymen with sublime dexterity, Saina must realize that from now it will be a tougher road ahead. For instance, Spaniard Carolina Marin, whose loss opened the path, will be thirsting for glory. So would be the Chinese top guns, particularly the injury-hit Li Xuerui, who will be ready to settle scores with a renewed vigour.

Looking back, one should give it her for taking the biggest gamble of her career when she parted ways with Gopichand and came under the tutelage of former national champion Vimal Kumar in Bangalore last summer. The risk has been worth its weight in gold because not only has she become the number one player (she was nine) but she also won her maiden China Open Super Series. As everyone celebrates the déjà vu moment, she should become oblivious of the accolades and be cautious because the Chinese will do everything to unseat the reigning queen from the pedestal. In addition to putting in that extra bit of effort, Saina Nehwal should develop consistency at the very top.

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