Saina Nehwal is India’s first Olympic medalist in badminton and her journey has kick-started the badminton revolution in India. But how did a girl from a small city in India rise to top the world rankings and make the country rally behind her?
Well, Saina’s recipe for success doesn’t just have one secret ingredient, it has many.
Like her mother – Usha Rani who was also a state-level badminton player – who acted as a source of inspiration and motivation, setting her on the right path and pushing her to go forward with the confidence she needed. She continues to serve as Saina’s inspiration on and off the court.
In the early stages of her career, Saina was spotted by renowned coaches like Nani Prasad Rao, S M Arif and Govardhan Reddy – each playing a key role in molding her career.
When she was just 14-years-old, legendary Indian badminton player Pullela Gopichand immediately recognized her talent and took her under his wing. His tutelage and mentorship have gone a long way in helping Saina become the ace she is today.
Her father, Dr. Harvir Singh, made sure Saina had the best equipment and training possible. After working as an agricultural scientist for 25 years in Hissar, he decided to shift to Hyderabad and enrolled Saina as one of twenty young players in Gopichand’s coaching camp. He did everything from driving her 20km away for coaching and then dropping her off to school before going to work, to sacrificing his own savings for her equipment. His selflessness propelled Saina towards realizing her dreams.
Her husband, Parupalli Kashyap has become the rock that Saina turns to in times of elation as well as adversity. Given their mutual love for the sport, they’ve been helping each other push their boundaries ever since they met.
And today, as Saina has played her way into the record books and the hearts of millions, we believe that her dream has been one that’s shared by all those around her. After all, that's the power of human potential multiplied.