The shuttler has been inspirational and achieved several accolades in her career.
Saina Nehwal is a household name when it comes to popular badminton players of India. She is one of the most important figures who popularised the sport in the country and has represented India on the biggest stages.
To commemorate her achievements for the country, Saina Nehwal has also been portrayed in a biopic movie. Despite her dwindling form in recent years, She remains one of India’s best female badminton players.
Here is a look at some of Saina Nehwal’s best achievements in a long career:
5. Commonwealth Gold in 2010
Saina Nehwal became the first-ever woman to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games. The meet was hosted in New Delhi, India in 2010, which was very successful in terms of the overall medal tally. The Indian shuttler had a lot of pressure on her shoulders, with millions of fans putting their faith in the shuttler to deliver gold.
She was up against Malaysia’s Mew Choo Wong in the final and won by 19-21, 23-21, 21-13 to clinch the gold medal. Even though she was favorite to win the gold, the final was an uphill task after she went behind and lost the first game. The Siri Fort Complex burst into celebratory cheer after Nehwal triumphed over her opponent and secured a brilliant 38th gold medal for India.
4. China Open Gold in 2014
Chinese badminton players are exceptionally talented and triumphing on their home turf was an iconic achievement by the shuttler. Saina Nehwal secured the gold medal at the China Open Superseries by defeating Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi in the final.
She secured the gold after winning the final 21-12, 22-20 in 42 minutes. She had brought incredible form into the tournament after clinching Australian Superseries and the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold. Her exploits were repeated by Kidambi Srikanth who won the Men’s singles bracket by defeating Chinese legend Lin Dan in the final.
3. BWF World Championships Silver in 2015
Saina created even more history when she became the first Indian female badminton player to win a silver and reach the finals at the BWF World Championships in 2015. The Hyderabad-born player reached the final in Jakarta and faced a stern test of Carolina Marin.
The Spaniard secured a 21-16, 21-19 victory over the Indian and wrote another chapter in their immense rivalry. While Nehwal missed out on the gold, she set a benchmark for other Indian shuttlers to follow. P.V. Sindhu eventually won the gold medal in 2019.
2. National Awards
Saina Nehwal has attributed to popularising badminton and inspiring scores of Indian youngsters to take up the sport. She is particularly credited with helping the female athletes by being a figure of inspiration. Acknowledging her contributions, the Government of India bestowed several civilian awards.
In 2016, she received the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award of India. She also has been conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards in 2009. Padma Shri was also awarded to the shuttler in 2010.
1. Olympic Bronze in 2012
The London Olympics in 2012 saw Saina Nehwal create more history. She became the first female badminton player to win a medal at the Olympics. She secured a well-deserved bronze medal after securing a place in the semi-finals by beating Dutch Yao Jie 21-15, 22-20 in straight games.
Then the 22-year-old met the top seed from China, Wang Yihan. She gave the Chinese a good competition, but fatigue from previous matches showed in her performance. She bowed out after losing the tie by 13-21, 13-21. However, this remains one of the biggest achievements of her career.