(Last Updated on : 25/03/2016)
Saina Nehwal is an accomplished Indian Badminton player
who has seen vast success in the sport in the global sphere. She has been a world number 1 in the Womens Singles, becoming only the second Indian after Prakash Padukone
to be so and the first Indian woman to achieve the feat in badminton
. She is also the first Indian to win a medal in the Olympics
, achieving this feat by clinching the bronze medal at the London Olympics 2012
on August 4, 2012. Besides these, she is the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships (Under 19) organised by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, clinching the Indonesia Open on June 21st, 2009 and the first Indian woman to win a silver at the BWF World Championship, in the year 2015. Saina Nehwal was conferred the Padma Shri
in 2010 and more recently in 2016, the Padma Bhushan
, Indias third highest civilian honour
by the Government of India
, in the arena of Sports - Badminton.
Early Life of Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal was born on March 17, 1990, in the city of Hisar
, in the Indian State
. She did her initial schooling in Campus School CCS HAU in Hisar. The family later shifted to Hyderabad
in Andhra Pradesh
, where she completed her 12th from St. Anns College in Mehdipatnam. She also holds a brown belt in Karate.
Career of Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal was initially coached by Dronacharya Award
winner S. M. Arif
and then by Pullela Gopichand
till September 2014. The reigning Indian national champion, she is presently coached by the former Indian badminton champion and national coach Vimal Kumar. She kicked off her successful career by creating history in 2006, winning the prestigious Asian Satellite Badminton tournament (India Chapter) twice, becoming the first player to do so. In May 2006, 16-year-old Saina became the first Indian woman and the youngest player from Asia to win a 4-star tournament - the Philippines Open. In the same year, she was the runner up at the 2006 BWF World Junior Championships, where she lost a hard fought match against top seed Chinese Wang Yihan. She did better in 2008 by becoming the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships, defeating ninth seeded Japanese Sayaka Sato 21-9, 21-18. She became the first Indian woman to reach the quarter finals in badminton at the Olympic Games, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
, where in the quarter finals she lost a nail biting 3-gamer to world no. 16 Maria Kristin Yulianti. She won the Yonex Chinese Taipei Open 2008, beating Lydia Cheah Li Ya of Malaysia 21-8, 21-19. On June 21, 2009, Saina became the first Indian to win a BWF Super Series title, the most prominent badminton series in the world, by winning the Indonesia Open. She beat Chinese Wang Lin in the final 12-21, 21-18, 21-9.
Saina successfully led the Indian Women Team to the quarter finals of the 2010 Uber Cup. She became the first Indian woman to reach the semi finals of 2010 All-England Super Series, before losing to eventual champion Tine Rasmussen. She won the 2010 India Open Grand Prix Gold, beating Malaysian Wong Mew Choo in the final, justifying her billing as top seed in the tournament. Nehwal, again seeded no. 1 in the Singapore Open Super Series 2010, won her second Super Series title beating Tai Tzu-Ying of Taiwan in the final 21-18, 21-15. She defended her Indonesia Open Super Series title in three tough games against Japanese Sayaka Sato 21-19, 13-21, 21-11, clinching her third Super Series title and third successive title after wins at India Open and Singapore Super Series. Top seeded Saina won the gold medal in Women's Singles badminton at the 2010 Commonwealth Games
, defeating Wong Mew Choo of Malaysia 19-21, 23-21, 21-13. In December 2010, she defeated Wang Shixian 15-21, 21-16, 21-17 in the final of the 2010 Hong Kong Super Series, winning her fourth career Super Series title.
In March 2011, 2nd seed Saina Nehwal beat Ji Hyun Sung of South Korea 21-13, 21-14 to win the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold badminton title. She crashed out of World Championship 2011, losing 15-21, 10-21 to world no. 3 Chinese Wang Xin in a lopsided singles match in the quarter finals. In the year, Saina exited out of multiple tournaments, which included the Super Series of Singapore, Indonesia, China, Japan, Hong Kong, France and Denmark. In the season ending tournament in December, Saina Nehwal created history by becoming the first Indian singles player to reach the final of BWF Super Series Masters Finals, after cruising her way through the semi finals of the 2011 BWF Super Series Masters Finals in Liuzhou, China, but eventually lost the final 21-18, 13-21, 13-21 against the World No. 1 Chinese Wang Yihan, in a contest lasting over an hour.
Later in March 2012, Saina successfully clinched the Swiss Open title by defeating World No. 2 Wang Shixian of China 21-19, 21-16. In June, she won her 3rd Indonesia Open Super Series title, defeating World No. 3 Li Xuerui of China 13-21, 22-20, 21-19. On August 4, 2012, she won the bronze medal at the London Olympics when China's Wang Xin retired from the match after an injury. In October, she won her first Denmark Open Super Series Premier, defeating Juliane Schenk of Germany in two straight sets. In 2014, Saina defeated World Championship bronze medallist P.V. Sindhu
21-14, 21-17 to win the Women's Singles at India Open Grand Prix Gold Tournament. She also defeated Spain's Carolina Marin 21-18, 21-11 to win Women's Singles at 2014 Australian Super Series. She became the 1st Indian woman to win the China Open Super Series Premier, beating Japan's Akane Yamaguchi 21-12, 22-20 in the final. Defending champion Saina won the 2015 India Open Grand Prix Gold beating Carolina Marin. In March 2015, she won her maiden women's singles title at India Open BWF Super Series beating Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand. With this, she secured the World No. 1 ranking when the latest BWF rankings were released in April, becoming the first Indian woman to be World No. 1 in badminton. In August 2015, she fought Carolina Marin again in the final of World Badminton Championships held in Jakarta, settling for the silver. Most recently in March 2016, Nehwal crashed out of the semi finals of the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold tournament in Basel, losing to lower placed Wang Yihan in straight games 11-21, 19-21. It was Yihan's 10th victory over Saina, with the ace Indian shuttler winning just 4 matches against the Chinese.
Of the total 21 Singles titles Saina has won internationally, 3 include Super Series Premier, 6 include Super Series, 7 for Grand Prix Gold, 1 for Grand Prix and 4 others.
Awards and Honours received by Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal has been awarded and recognised with the most prestigious sports and civilian honours.
Most Promising Player of the Year (2008) award by the Badminton World Federation
Arjuna Award by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India in 2009
Padma Shri by Government of India in 2010
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Indias highest honour in sports by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2009-2010
Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 2016
For her bronze win at the 2012 London Olympics, she was awarded cash prizes by Haryana
and Andhra Pradesh state governments
, by Badminton Association of India
and an Honorary Doctorate Degree by Mangalayatan University. Saina Nehwal is one of the athletes supported by Olympic Gold Quest, a not-for-profit company committed to bridging the gap between the best athletes in India and the best athletes in the world, thus helping Indian athletes
to win Olympic Gold medals.