Saina to hold a political racquet
Olympic preparations remain on course
New Delhi : Saina Nehwal's life has always been about doing one thing at one time. But her admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have broadened her vistas from just the badminton court into the political arena.
The badminton ace, who joined the BJP on Wednesday, will now be straddling not just one world but two. The Olympic bronze medallist's much publicised entry into politics may have come as a surprise, but it will not come in the way of her preparation for this summer's Games in Tokyo.
"They said that she should continue her preparation for the Olympics as it is a separate field, and God willing, she will qualify. But, whenever the party needs her for campaigning or something, she can keep providing the support," her father Harvir Singh told PTI. "There is no hard line that she can't do this or that. They have admitted her in the party and asked her to just give her best." Saina is facing a race against time to make the cut for her fourth successive Olympics.
According to the BWF Olympics qualification rules, only two players from each singles category can qualify if their rankings lie within the top-16 by April 26. Saina hasn't won a title since the 2019 Indonesia Masters in January and could cross the first-round only six times in the last 14 tournaments that she has played. The gradual dip in performance saw her slip to the 18th spot in BWF ranking and a lowly 22nd in the Olympic qualification rankings.
Saina, a world championship silver medallist and two-time Commonwealth Games champion, joins the party at a time when they are gearing up for the Delhi elections. Asked if she will campaign for BJP before the Delhi elections, Harvir said: "May be if there is a requirement. There will be discussions and as the party says, she will do it." "Saina is not playing any tournament right now, including the PBL (Premier Badminton League), so she has the time now. If they call her, she will definitely come. That is something the party will decide."
In joining the BJP, Saina has followed in the footsteps of cricketer Gautam Gambhir, wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and Babita Phogat and hockey player Sandeep Singh.
"The discussion has been going on for last 5-6 months but because of the series of tournaments, it couldn't be materialised. So depending on the party, whatsoever responsibility the party gives her, she will try to do to the best of responsibility," Harvir said.