Saina backs Sindhu for Olympic medal: Can’t judge any player from last 6-7 months results

In the run-up to the Olympics, Sindhu, who returned to action in February this year after recovering from a knee injury, couldn’t record a win over top players.

Published : Jul 05, 2024 20:12 IST , Mumbai - 5 MINS READ

London Olympics bronze winner Saina Nehwal. (File Photo)
London Olympics bronze winner Saina Nehwal. (File Photo) | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

London Olympics bronze winner Saina Nehwal. (File Photo) | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

London Olympics bronze winner Saina Nehwal on Friday backed two-time medallist P V Sindhu to find her “touch” in time, saying she shouldn’t be “judged” based on recent results as a medal at the Paris Games will boil down to “fitness” and “training”.

Sindhu will be gunning for her third successive Olympic medal at the French capital.

In the run-up to the Olympics, Sindhu, who returned to action in February this year after recovering from a knee injury, lacked consistency and couldn’t record a win over top players although she did reach the final of Malaysia Masters Super 500.

“You can’t judge any player from the results of the last 6-7 months. Sindhu has been playing well for many years and she’s got a lot of experience behind her,” Saina told PTI on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Badminton Pros Academy, located in Monte South, a project from Marathon Realty and Adani Realty.

“It’s just that what happens in that particular tournament will depend on when the event starts. Otherwise, the performance (of Sindhu) has been quite good. The results have been quite close during the last 6-7 months.

“It’s just that winning, losing, sometimes you don’t get the touch, but it can come (back) at any point. All the players train hard for the highest level. I’m sure Sindhu will be trying to get that medal too.”

There have been concerns about Sindhu’s ability to close out a match as she has squandered some matches from winning positions, including the Malaysia Masters final where she botched up an 11-3 lead in the decider against China’s Wang Zhi Yi.

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“It will just come with the flow. You can’t work on those points. Sometimes it can go either way. It will just happen in the matches, how the matches are going because competition will be tough,” Saina said.

Sindhu is currently putting the final touches to her Olympic preparation at the Hermann-Neuberger Sportschule in Saarbrucken, Germany, and Saina said training is the only solution to get over such concerns.

“Training is the only solution to not think about all these things because training is going to make you what you are and if you have not trained well, any player can defeat you but if you have trained well, then I think these things don’t matter.

“If you have trained like 80-90% and you are super fit. So, whoever comes in front of you then I think mental games or any kind of strategies are not going to help. But if you have not trained that hard, that is when you have to think about some issues.”

World Number One An Se Young is considered to be the favourite to win the gold, given her dominant run in the last couple of years. In 2024, the young Korean won Super 750 titles in Malaysia, France and Singapore and finished runner-up at the Indonesia Super 1000 in June.

“In women’s singles, all of them are playing well. An Se Young has been someone who has dominated like anything but the Olympics is tough for most players because there are expectations and pressure, she is a young athlete and for the first time she will be competing in the Olympics.

“I don’t know how difficult it is going to be because there are some experienced players like Carolina Marin, Tai Tzu Ying, Sindhu, Ratchanok Inthanon and Akane Yamaguchi.

“All of them have very good chances. So let’s see. Badminton is fitness, badminton is speed, and badminton is endurance. So, it’s not going to be like anyone can win a mental game. It’s always going to be fitness.” Saina said India’s men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has a bright chance to win a gold in Paris.

“In men’s doubles, we have a very strong chance of winning a gold,” said the 34-year-old from Hyderabad.

“Men’s singles is very tricky because there are 10-11 of them who are at the same level. I’m sure we will know the result only on that particular date because you never know how one player is going to play in that tournament.” HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen will be leading India’s charge in men’s singles at the Paris Olympics.

It’s tough, knee not in good shape: Saina on comeback

Saina hasn’t played any tournament since her first-round exit at the Singapore Open in June last year due to her long-standing knee injury issues.

“I am trying but I think we have tried multiple injections but it’s not helping. Knee arthritis is really bad and there is a lot of wear and tear in the knee which shows that there is a lot of swelling.

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“When you want to play at the highest level you will have to give 10 to 11 hours. So, you know when you have played at the highest level for so long you want to continue playing at the highest level and get good results.

“But if the knee is not recovering on time then I think it’s a very bad idea to continue. Maybe I’ll take a call soon but my knee is not in good shape. I can only say it’s tough to come back,” she concluded.

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