Report: Saina Nehwal believes India are 4-5 years behind having another world class women’s singles shuttler

Ajay GandharAjay Gandhar
October 14 2023
Saina Nehwal
(Courtesy : Badminton Association of India)

She also shared the reasons why she thinks the young generation is lagging.

In a candid assessment of the state of Indian women’s singles badminton in India, Saina Nehwal, the country’s most successful player in the sport, has raised a poignant concern. She warns that it may take up to five years for India to nurture a world-class women’s singles player, a void that seems increasingly challenging to fill.

As of now, the landscape of Indian women’s singles badminton stands at a pivotal juncture. Following in Nehwal’s footsteps, PV Sindhu remains the only other Indian woman to clinch a medal at the Olympics or World Championships. However, even Sindhu has been grappling with injuries and an apparent struggle to maintain consistency in recent times.

Alarmingly, aside from Sindhu, no other Indian female player currently ranks in the top 20 of the world rankings. This deficiency is casting a looming shadow over the future of Indian women’s singles badminton, with no clear successor in sight to carry the torch passed down by Nehwal and Sindhu

“There is a jameen-asmaan difference between Sindhu, myself and the present lot. I think it will take another four to five years to get another women’s singles player of that calibre,” Nehwal was quoted as saying in an interview with the Times of India.

Nehwal articulates several factors contributing to this lack of depth in Indian women’s singles badminton field in India. She highlighted the insufficient number of domestic tournaments as one of the key issues. Additionally, Nehwal called for substantial improvements in the coaching system, recognizing that a robust foundation is essential for nurturing talent.

“Me and Sindhu are attacking players. We need to possess some kind of an attack but the girls I know are only rally players. Playing rallies is good but you need to have an all-round game to win at the international level.”

She also added that in contrast, the men’s division has a lot of promise. “In men’s singles we have players like Lakshya Sen and Priyanshu Rajawat. They are playing at the level of Prannoy and Srikanth. That is how you need to be. Our girls also should play like An Se Young or Akane Yamaguchi,” added Nehwal.

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Saina Nehwal’s impassioned plea extends to the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and the government. She urged them to address these concerns promptly and comprehensively. The BAI, cognizant of the challenges at hand, has pledged to work on solutions to rejuvenate the women’s singles field.

Nonetheless, it’s evident that this journey is far from over. India’s commitment to the sport must deepen, with investments and infrastructural improvements, creating an environment conducive to the development of women’s singles players. Only then can India aspire to bridge the current gap and foster the emergence of a world-class women’s singles badminton star in the foreseeable future.

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