24 January, 2021

Net Strength

Impassably robust, Saina dares all at August’s World Championships

P. Anil Kumar
Net Strength

Saina Nehwal plays badminton in a manner almost unprecedented in Indian sport—the muscularity of her game, the strength of her smashes and the quickness of her eye and feet are incongruous with the delicate, all-wrist, cerebral style preferred by top Indian shuttlers of the past. “I can outlast the Chinese, they get tired too,” she states impassively. You can’t help but marvel at her words—a surplus of stamina and strength is something you can’t accuse most Indian sportspersons of. Or, for that matter, an unshakeable mind and killer instinct.

From the start, Saina, now 19, had been marked out as a future champion by a succession of coaches. She had the game, she had the heart and she had the strength. Saina became part of the Indian team at 13 itself. Her supremacy in India, after she superseded Aparna Popat, was never in doubt. But at the international level, she encountered a string of impossibly difficult Chinese tests. It was only this June that Saina finally solved the Chinese riddle—she beat...



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