Saina: 'Winning gold in team event was a big dream'

The triumphant Indian badminton team that made a historic breakthrough with the mixed team championship gold was rewarded by the Badminton Association of India.

The Indian badminton team receiving a cheque of Rs. 50 lakh for winning the team Commonwealth Games gold.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

The triumphant Indian badminton team that made a historic breakthrough with the mixed team championship gold was rewarded by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) with cash awards to the tune of Rs. 1.3 crore here on Saturday.

The president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Narinder Batra and the president of the BAI, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, felicitated the players.

The chief coach of the team P. Gopichand, while thanking everyone for the tremendous support for the game in the country, acknowledged the stupendous performance of the squad in winning the first ever team gold.

Read: 'Saina and Sindhu are precious diamonds'

"We tried hard to break through and win this gold over the years. In a mixed team event, in which there are three doubles matches, we thought we could never win. The doubles teams did it. You inspired the singles players. The victory belongs to the entire team," said Gopi Chand.

Saina Nehwal who had the distinction of winning both the team and individual gold was equally elated about the team gold, and put it above her own effort of winning the women’s gold at the expense of compatriot P.V. Sindhu.

"The team gold was a big dream for all of us. It was a great 15 days. Thank you for the felicitation. Hope we continue to do the hard work," said Saina, who was presented a cheque of Rs. 20 lakh.

The 10 members of the team were presented Rs. 50 lakh, to be shared evenly, Rs.5 lakh each.

Sindhu and K. Srikanth were awarded Rs. 10 lakh each for the silver medals. The men’s doubles team of Satwik Sairaj and Chirag Shetty was awarded Rs.15 lakh while Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy were presented Rs.7.5 lakh for the bronze medal.

Gopichand was presented Rs. 10 lakh, while the other members of the coaching staff apart from physiotherapists, Tan Kim Her, Siyadath Ullah Siddiqui, Kiran, Johnson and Gayatri Shetty were presented Rs. 7.5 lakh in all.

"I congratulate all the players for the first ever team gold. I couldn’t play, but the team-mates made us proud. In the coming matches, we will do our best," said Sindhu.

Srikanth who had become world No. 1 thanked the BAI for the prompt function with the cash awards and said, "it was one of the best Games this time".

The IOA president acknowledged everyone’s appreciation for the care taken to make the team feel at home in Australia, but was quite graceful in saying that all credit should go to the IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta, as he himself could not be present in Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games.

Commending the performance of the team for winning two gold, three silver and a bronze, Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed confidence that the players would fare well in the World Championship and the Asian Games.

On his part Batra stressed that the sustained efforts towards winning international medals would help win the public support for the country’s bid to host the Youth Olympics, Asian Games and the Olympics from 2026 onwards.

In a candid observation, the IOA president pointed that 60 of the 66 medals were won by games that were governed by politicians, and conceded that hockey could not win, despite non-political leadership.