Saina: 'Tough to manage the IOC role'

"I will make sure I listen to whatever problems athletes have and present them to the IOC. It's a huge recognition for me. I'm the first member from Asia and India. I hope to live up to the expectations," says Saina Nehwal.

Saina Nehwal polled the sixth-highest number of votes and was one of the four directly appointed by the IOC President, Thomas Bach.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Barely a week has elapsed since Saina Nehwal's appointment to the IOC Athletes’ Commission but the badminton star has already received multiple messages from various sporting bodies about their problems.

"The moment I became a member, I started getting so many emails from different associations about their issues," she said here on Tuesday. "I'm thinking how I'm going to manage this. It's not going to be easy, because I'm also playing. But my father and I are looking into it. I've also asked the BAI to help look into it."

Saina, who was speaking at an event to promote clothing brand Kaira, was among the 23 candidates for election to the Athletes' Commission at this summer's Olympic Games. Although she was not among the four elected in Rio, she polled the sixth-highest number of votes and was one of the four directly appointed by the IOC President, Thomas Bach, afterwards.

"One fine day at the Olympics, we were having lunch, and I got to see my name there (among the candidates). They said they were selecting the athletes with the highest votes. I was sixth. I was not expecting the appointment but now that I've got it, I have to start working on it," she said.

The IOC Athletes' Commission will be involved in important activities, including the process to evaluate Candidate Cities and the sports programme for the Games. "I will make sure I listen to whatever problems athletes have and present them to the IOC," Saina said. "It's a huge recognition for me. I'm the first member from Asia and India. I hope to live up to the expectations."

The 26-year-old felt her ability to communicate in English may have helped in her appointment to the Commission as a badminton player. "The BWF is very happy with the way I speak. Normally, there are not many people in badminton that speak English, because the Asian players prefer to speak in their own languages. The BWF thought Saina can represent badminton," she said.

It is learnt that Saina will miss the inaugural meeting of the new Commission in Lausanne (Nov. 6-11) as she will be busy preparing for the China Open (Nov. 15-20) and the Hong Kong Open (Nov. 22-27), her first scheduled competitions since her return from injury.