Full Name: Saina Nehwal
Height: 1.65 mm
Strong hand: Right
Career Titles: 24
Home Town: Hyderabad
Saina Nehwal is an Indian professional badminton single’s player. She is a former world number one and is regarded as India’s most significant and most successful female sports personality.
Saina Nehwal’s Early life
Saina Nehwal was born in a small district called “hisar” in India’s north-western state of Haryana. It’s a state that has historically been known for gender bias and the rampant numbers of female foeticide.
She had to face many challenges at a very young age as a female athlete, in particular, had always faced massive resistance in the Indian conservative society.
But, thankfully enough for Saina Nehwal, her parents, Harvir Singh and Usha Rani, were very supportive of her from the beginning of her journey. They both were also former state badminton players. Saina’s mother was a state champion in Haryana.
Surprisingly though, Badminton wasn’t Saina’s first passion. As a kid, she was much more into karate. She owned a brown belt in it.
But as I have already mentioned before, Saina’s mother, Usha Rani, was also a prominent badminton player. When Saina was young, Usha used to play for a local club in their newly moved city, Hyderabad. She used to watch her mother play at this club frequently, which is how she gained her first exposure to Badminton.
And ever since then, Saina never looked back.
During her earlier years, Saina’s father had to face many difficulties as her family was a typical middle-class Indian family, and she has a sister, who was pursuing a medical degree, and her father was the sole earner. And indoor sports in India have always been expensive.
She had to travel to the stadium about 30 km/s from her residence early morning, pay her coaching fees, and buy her equipment every day. So, her father had to regularly borrow money from his friends and relatives to ensure that Saina had everything she needs.
Rise to glory
Saina had shown a lot of promise as a shuttler from a very young age.
She first burst onto the scene, at a very young age of 16 in the year 2006, as she became the first-ever shuttler from India to win the Philippines open. She entered the tournament as the 84th seed, and totally annihilated every player that stood in her way to the title, including the likes of Xu Huaiwen and Julia Wong Pei Xiang who were ranked ranked number four and number seven respectively.
In the same year, she also managed to make it to the 2006 BWF World Junior Championships final, which she lost to Wang Yihan of China, a much higher seeded and experienced player than her.
But that loss couldn’t hold her back for long and she came back strongly in 2008 Olympics in Beijing where she made history by knocking out the then world number 4 Wang Chen of Hong kong and made it to the quarter-finals of the tournament which she again, unfortunately lost to Maria Kristin.
Later that year, Saina Nehwal won her first major tournament beating Malaysia’s Lydia Cheah Li Ya of 21–8 21–19 in the 2008 Yonex Chinese Taipei Open.
From here on, there was no stopping her.
In 2009, Saina won the BWF super series title; In 2010, she won the commonwealth games gold medal, In 2011, she won the Swiss open title and finally in 2012, she won the bronze medal in London Olympics she has been dreaming for all her life.
And Saina doesn’t stop here. She then went on to become the world number and won many more titles in the coming years. You can see a brief of all her sporting achievements later in the article.
Saina’s Personal life
Saina nehwal has an elder sister, Chandranshu Nehwal who is a medic by profession. She is also known to be a huge dog lover and an admirer of Bollywood actors, Shahrukh Khan, and Prabhas.
In the year 2018, Saina got married to Parupalli Kashyap, a prominent badminton player. She is said to have met kashayap during her time at the renowned Pullela Gopichand’s badminton academy in Hyderabad at the age of 14, way back in 2005.
During the course of her 16-year long active career as a shuttler, Saina Nehwal has managed to win many medals and break many records. Here are some of the most notable ones:
- By Defeating Wang Xin at the 2012 summer Olympics in London, Saina Nehwal became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic bronze medal in Badminton.
- She also became the first and the only Indian ever to hold the BWF world no.1 title.
- Saina Nehwal bagged silver and a bronze in the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.
- At the historic commonwealth games of 2010 held in Delhi, India, Saina bagged the gold medal after beating Malaysia’s Wong Mew Choo 19-21, 23-21, 21-13 in the final.
- She then later managed to retain this gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, beating her compatriot PV Sindhu 21-18, 23-21 in the gold medal match.
- Later in the same year, she became the first Indian woman to ever win a bronze medal in the Asian Games after beating Tai Tzu-Ying 17-21, 14-21 in the 3rd place match in the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta.
- Saina Nehwal also managed to win herself a total of three bronze medals in Asain Championships, held in 2010, 2016, and 2018.
Here are some of the awards/ honours Saina Nehwal has received:
- Padma Bhushan award in 2016
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in the sporting year 2009–2010
- Padma Shri Award for sports in 2010
- Arjuna Award in 2009
- BWF’s Most Promising Young Player award for the Year 2008
Here are some of the lesser-known facts about Saina Nehwal:
- Saina was a champion in karate way before entered the badminton field.
- Her parents were also State badminton champions in Haryana.
- She wrote her autobiography, Playing to Win.
- A biopic named “Saina”, based on Saina nehwal’s life and directed by Amol Gupte, was released in March this year.
- Saina Nehwal has an estimated net worth of approximately 36 crore Indian rupees($5 million USD)
What is she up to now?
Although she is still an active player, Saina Nehwal’s glorious badminton career seems to be finally coming to an end.
Her most recent participation in a competitive match was in the all-England open in March 2021, where she lost to Mia Blichfeldt in the round of 16. And she also failed to qualify for the Tokyo summer Olympics that are to be held in August 2021.
As I have already mentioned before, “Saina”, a biopic based on her life story, hit the box office a few months ago.
Her focus now seems to be shifting to politics as she, along with her sister Chandranshu Nehwal, recently joined India’s ruling political party, BJP.