SAINA NEHWAL

Bronze: Badminton, women’s singles; London 2012.

Saina Nehwal... Bronze medal in Badminton, women’s singles; London 2012.   -  PTI

Not many Indian women have been the World No. 1 in a truly global and popular sport. Saina Nehwal achieved that rare distinction in April 2015.

READ: >Saina Nehwal Interview

“I want to win an Olympic medal,” Saina had told this writer in 2005; she was 15 then. Saina realised her dream seven years later by winning the women’s singles bronze medal in London, where she was seeded No. 4.

After winning both her preliminary league encounters without dropping a game, Saina defeated Yao Jie of the Netherlands in the Round of 16, also in straight games. She faced stiffer challenge in the last eight from Denmark’s Tine Baun, but came through in straight games.

Saina, however, went down in the semifinals to the top seed, Wang Yihan of China. In the bronze medal match, she had won the first game and was leading 1-0 in the second when her opponent, Wang Xin of China, retired with a knee injury.

Saina could do even better in Rio.