Commonwealth Games 2018: Never doubt Saina Nehwal, ever again
"I don’t know whether you’ve suppressed your true feelings completely or you genuinely don’t care about the ignominy that people have heaped on you. Whatever be the truth, you have held strong. The entire universe conspired to break you, and here you are, still unbowed. What metal have you been forge in, my son?"
Whether you liked reading Amish Tripathi's 'Scion of Ikshvaku' or not, these lines by Dashrath to Ram sticks with you long after finishing the book.
It is not always with Indian athletes that excerpts from books find a meaning in real life, but with one sportsperson, these words ring very true.
Saina Nehwal is not just any other badminton player and yet, yet in the last 12-15 months, if not more, we seemed to have lost confidence in her -- in her ability to win big matches, in her ability to rise from the ashes, once again.
No commentary in any match involving Saina is complete minus the mention of her 'mental strength', of her ' tenacity to keep the fight going, of her ability to scrap.
But it had now started to look that all of those qualities were beginning to wane. That the might was giving away and the queen's throne was starting to fit and look a lot better in the head of a 22-year-old superstar, who in her own right, had done enough already to find herself nearly in the bracket of legends.
But that's what they say about queens, no. That while they may have lost everything, they will fight the hardest for the crown, as it is that which continues to keep them atop.
Injuries. Inconsistency. Hell, even controversies. Saina saw all of that, but when the time came for the ultimate battle on the badminton court, she was there, prowling away at her opponents, showing a sense of passiveness in her face, but never in her game.
A series of 12 straight wins culminated in her second Commonwealth Games Gold medal in the wee hours of Sunday morning and a passionate fan base had found not just it's voice, but also it's vigour again.
The doubters had gone hiding behind the bush, not for the first time.
In a glittering career that has seen it all, this medal should hold additional significance for Saina. Simply because of the grind she has had to go through, post Rio 2016, in trying to become the shuttler that she was, in trying to compete and beat the best, but critically, trying to show everyone that she had a second wind to her career, one that would take her to the top again.
Time, though, catches up with everyone. At 28, with injuries always lurking somewhere in her life, waiting to hit her at the worst of times, nobody can say with any form of clarity how much longer she will be there in the sport, fighting her way through, point-after-point, match-after-match.
However, for as long as she is, one thing is for sure: the fight within her will not die. In fact, there would be some stored in the reserves within her mind, which would come when all seemed lost, when she seems alone.
If indeed this is the beginning of a second wind, none can wait to see how high she can reach in her career.Only this time, hopefully, they've learnt their lesson well - never to doubt Saina Nehwal ever again