Saina Nehwal: Bringing Back the Glory to Indian Badminton

The unexpected defeat of Xu Huaiwen in the Philippine Open puts a name even in Germany into the spotlight. The “Cinderella” of Indian badminton sport, Saina Nehwal has a had a dream journey into the International badminton circuit.

Saina Nehwal of the state of Andhra Pradesh, India is the youngest player who ever won a four-star tournament. She started off with this tournament as 86th in the world. Therefore it was quite a surprise when she  displaced German champion Xu Huaiwen, the world number four, 21:17 in the third set of the quarter finals of the Philipine Open and beat her with a clean sweep tournament victory.

Not many had heard the name Saina Nehwal before this. However insiders have known it for long. And in India itself, this young lady has already been making huge headlines for the past one year. She was born on 17 March 1990.

In 2005 she was a 14-year-old Indian vice-champion who had already entered the adult population in that year, and even won a title. In the tough competition of the Commonwealth Games in March, she successively defeated Li Li from Singapore, Tracey Hallam of England and Rebecca Bellingham of New Zealand.

Shortly thereafter, she was termed as the “Cinderella” of the Indian badminton, and celebrated as a miracle teenager. She is trained by former All-England champion Pullela Gopichand – who runs a Badminton academy in his home town Hyderabad.

Saina is sponsored by the Mittal Champions Trust, a foundation, the Indian steel baron Lakshmi Mittal started, to support promising young Indian players. With the help of this foundation all the talented Indian sportsmen and women are supported with scholarships to enable them especially in the global sporting events like the Asian Games and the Olympic Games. This helps them represent their nation and those sportspersons who have a lack of government funding and sponsors.

Not surprisingly, India won the last Olympic Games with just three individual medals. This was for the country with the second largest population on this earth is not appropriate and foundations like these by eminent global Indians will encourage young Indians to take up sports as a career.