Saina: 'Nothing else matters once you are on the court'

The 26-year-old Saina, training in Bengaluru under Vimal Kumar for the last one year, reminds that the preparations are really good with two sessions daily on courts and another one only for physical conditioning.

Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal in the 2012 London Games.   -  Sudhakara Jain

India’s ace shuttler Saina Nehwal believes that she is in a much better frame of mind and hopes for even better results (she won a bronze in the 2012 London Games) as she spearheads the Indian badminton challenge at the Rio Olympics next month.

The 26-year-old Saina, training in Bengaluru under Vimal Kumar for the last one year, reminds that the preparations are really good with two sessions daily on courts and another one only for physical conditioning with the help of a physio and a trainer provided by SAI.

“Every effort is being made to come back with a medal. Well, I will not be found wanting in giving off my best in Rio and hope the results will be fruitful,” she says. “I must say here that Vimal sir has been motivating me so much that I feel better prepared now to show the results.”

On taking a different approach as compared to London 2012, “It is another chapter with a lot of changes in terms of styles and strategies of the top players. Personally, I suffered some nagging injuries but feel great mentally and physically now,” explains Saina. “Yes, I consider myself a very good learner and whatever my coach Vimal sir is teaching me I try to grasp it up for maximum results.”

“Any Olympics is a huge challenge and in between each edition you see so many changes, ups and downs. By God’s grace, I believe that the build-up for me has been really good in terms of training and the recent Australian Open title was just perfect before this Games,” remarked Saina.

The champion shuttler doesn’t want to name the biggest challengers for her in Rio. “You cannot pick up a player or two as your major challengers for the best will be there. In terms of competition, it will be more like the Super Series where the big guns are lined up but here the tag of Olympics makes a huge difference,” says Saina, winner of 22 international titles.

“To represent India for the third straight Olympics is definitely a matter of pride to me. And, I don’t think I have had to make major adjustments in my game except keeping an eye on improving some areas which every player has to do before a major event. We (all players) are conscious of the importance of staying focused right through Olympics,” she says. “Yes, if you ask me specifically about my game, I am looking at a better approach to drops, dribbling and half-smashes on which I am really working hard.”

Saina brushes aside the pressure factor because of the expectations. “They will be there and yes I do listen and hear about them in the media. But, I repeat once you are on the court, you have to shut yourself away from all these issues and focus on the match on any given day ,” insists India’s premier woman shuttler.

On the prospects of Indian badminton contingent itself, Saina says that she is away from her fellow players it is very difficult for her to say anything. “But, I sincerely convey my best wishes not just to my fellow shuttlers but to the entire Indian Olympic contingent in Rio,” signed off Saina.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :