S.M. Arif, the Dronacharya Awardee trained Saina during her initial years. She is now under the guidance of Atik Jauhari who is an Indonesian badminton legend. She also has Pullela Gopichand, the Indian national coach and former England champion as her mentor.
Saina’s father Harvir Singh Nehwal is a scientist at the Directorate of Oilseeds Research and her mother Usha Nehwal have always been supportive of her career and encouraged her to peruse badminton as they knew she was passionate about the sport.
Making Her Mark
You will usually find Saina Nehwal training at the Pullela Gopichand Academy that is located in Hyderabad. For all the people that saw her when she was younger, they always felt that she had the belief in her. Since she was a National Champion in the junior ranks, she had a reputation moving into the senior ranks and she has not disappointed in a number of national as well as international tournaments.
The Junior Czech Open held in 2003 was where she made her mark. Her victory in that tournament paved her way for a successful career. She then went on to make a mark in the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2004 where she stood second. Saina then went on to become the first ever player to win the Asian Satellite Badminton two years in a row – in 2005 and 2006.
In 2006, Saina made her mark by becoming the first Indian woman to win the Philippines Open which is a super series tournament. She also became the first ever Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships held in 2008. In the same year she went on to win the Commonwealth Youth Games, Chinese Taipei Open Grand Prix Gold as well as the Indian National Badminton Championships. This catapulted her status and she won the 2008 most promising player award.
She excelled and became a better player in 2009. She went on to win the Indonesia Open which is the most important badminton series held across the world. She also managed to reach the quarterfinals of the World Championship held in 2009. In a short time span, Saina had made a tremendous impact in the world of badminton and caught everyone by surprise. All her hard work and achievements earned her the Arjuna Award in 2009 and the Padma Shri Award in 2010.
Featured Photo by Gautam_SG