Saina Nehwal is one of the best known Indian Badminton players, and arguably the most promising female Indian Badminton player at the moment. Apart from upsetting some of the top seeded players in World Badminton, Saina has to her credit the achievement of being the first Indian woman to have entered the Quart Final round of Badminton event at the Olympic Games.
Early Life & Introduction to Badminton
She was born on the 17th of March 1990 in Hisar, Haryana. Both her father, Dr. Harvir Singh and mother Usha Rani were former State Badminton Champions in Haryana, so she got the game of Badminton in her genes. Dr. Harvir Singh, a scientist at the Directorate of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad encouraged her to pick up the game of Badminton, and took her to Nani Prasad, the Badminton Coach at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad in the year 1998. The 8 yrs old Saina followed a very tough training schedule right since the beginning, and would travel almost 50kms a day for the training. Further, Saina trained under S.M. Arif, a Dronacharya Award winning Badminton Coach, and now is receiving Coaching at the Pullela Gopichand’s Academy of Badminton at Hyderabad.
Nehwal became the National Junior Champion in the year 2004, and won the title again in the year 2005. She was a runner up in the National Senior Championship 2005, and won the title in the year 2006, repeating the victory in the year 2007 again. Apart from these, she has won the All India Jr. Ranking Tournaments of the year 2005 held at Chennai, Cochin, Bangalore and Pune. She further won the All India Senior Ranking Tournament 2005 held at Mumbai, and also emerged as the winner at the National Games held at Guwahati.
Saina made her International Debut in the year 2003 at the India Satellite tournament where she reached the top-16 round. The same year, she won the Junior Czech Open tournament. Further, she reached the Quarter Final at the Cheers Asian Satellite tournament 2004 held at Singapore. She got her first International success at the India Satellite tournament 2005 where she emerged as the winner of the tournament. After this, she also claimed the Bingo Bonanza Philippines Open title in the year 2006, and the India Satellite tournament 2006. She played at the All England Open 2007, and reached the Pre-Quarter Final round where she lost to World No. 3 player from China. She also reached the Quarter Final rounds at the Macau Open tournament 2007 and the Dutch Open tournament 2007.
In the year 2008, Saina won the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix Gold tournament, and reached the Semi Final round of the LI NING China Masters Super Series tournament also. The same year, she created a history of the sorts when she became the First Indian Woman ever to reach the Quarter Final round of the Badminton event at the Olympic Games. At the Beijing Olympic Games 2008, Saina faced the 4th Seeded player and the World No. 6 Wang Chen from Hong Kong in the Pre-Quarter-Final match. Although in the Quarter Final match, she lost to Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia by 28-26, 14-21, 15-21.
Throughout her Badminton career so far, Saina has been able to topple some of the top Badminton players of the world in her tournaments. These players include Huaiwen XU, Julia Xian Pei of Malaysia, and the World No. 6 Wang Chen of Hong Kong.