Hope to have a dream run in London Olympics

“What impresses me most about Saina is her intensity and focus in the training sessions. From the first minute till the end of a three-hour session daily, she displays the same commitment and enthusiasm,” says Gopi Chand of his ward.-V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

It has been a steady progress after a lean patch between last September and November. I think her appearance in the final of the BWF World Super Series is one of the high points of Saina's career. By P. Gopi Chand.

Olympics is a totally different proposition. Yet I strongly believe that Saina Nehwal continues to be the best medal hope in badminton for India because of her ability to run after the shuttle, her power-game and great intensity levels.

It has been a steady progress after a lean patch between last September and November. I think her appearance in the final of the BWF World Super Series is one of the high points of her career. Then, retaining the Swiss Open Grand Prix after beating two big-time Chinese players ranked higher than her is another significant achievement of Saina.

I think she is in the best of shape now, mentally and physically. She has improved her strokes by a long way. At this level, it is imperative to keep working on even minor flaws.

What impresses me most about Saina is her intensity and focus in the training sessions. From the first minute till the end of a three-hour session daily, she displays the same commitment and enthusiasm. Never gets bored. This is what makes Saina so different from others.

Definitely, we keep evolving our training programmes to adapt to the changes in the game. I remember when Saina joined me in 2004, she was just 14 years old with a natural instinct and essentially a very powerful player.

But over the years, Saina developed her strokes. And she is more focussed mentally to face any challenge. It is no joke to be in the top five in the world for close to two years now.

History, money and facilities have not helped even badminton powers like Indonesia and Malaysia to produce someone as good as Saina in recent times.

We do a decent amount of yoga as part of our routine during a major event. What delights me is that Saina doesn't want to try anything different. She is not keen on partying or outing. She loves to be either on the court, training or at the gym, to stay fit; if not she prefers to stay back in the room and relax. We do focus on video analyses of various opponents.

I don't think there will be any pressure on Saina because of the expectations for she is quite used to these things by now. I sincerely hope to have a dream run in the London Olympics.

As told to V. V. Subrahmanyam