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Saina Nehwal biography: Age, family, achievements, hobbies and everything you need to know about the Badminton star.

ANALYST
14.36K   //    25 Sep 2016, 23:38 IST
Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal has been one of the most prominent female sportspersons in the recent years

Perhaps the biggest name to emerge out of Indian badminton in recent times, Saina Nehwal has stood as an inspiration to many for many long years. She would have remained the undisputed queen of the sport in India had it not been for PV Sindhu's recent remarkable performance at the Rio Olympics.

After first coming to the forefront in 2009, this former World No. 1 was slated to be the next best thing as she went from winning one title to another. This 26-year old is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest female athletes of recent times and has a huge hand in making India proud on an international level.

Also read: 10 best badminton racquets to buy in India

Saina Nehwal biography

Born in Hisar, Saina is currently 26 years old. She initially started her schooling at the Campus School CCS HAU in Hisar before shifting to Hyderabad with her family. Coming from a humble middle-class background, Saina was quite interested in sports from a very young age. She initially took up Badminton and first trained under Nani Prasad and later under SM Arif, an Arjuna award-winning badminton coach.

Besides this particular discipline, Saina also holds a brown belt in Karate. She eventually completed her high school from St. Ann's College, Mehdipatnam in Hyderabad.


Saina Nehwal Family

Saina Nehwal family
She comes from a close-knit family and is very influenced by her parents

Saina was born on March 17, 1990, to Harvir Singh and Usha Rani. Her father worked at the Chaudhury Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University to which her first school was affiliated. She is the elder of two daughters with her sister, Abu Chandranshu Nehwal being born a few years after her. She has long credited her success in Badminton to the constant support she has received from her parents over the years.

To ensure that his daughter had a shot at pursuing her dreams, Harvir Singh carefully invested money in a well returning provident fund to guarantee the best possible coaching for her. He himself was a top-ranked player in the University circuit and he made sure he cultivated the inherent love for the sport in Saina.

Mr. Nehwal was the one who introduced her to Mr. Nani Prasad at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad. Usha Rani, Saina's mother, was a state level badminton player too. Coming from such genes, Saina was definitely destined for greatness.

As committed as she is to the game, praise must be reserved for the dedication shown by her parents. Initially, she had to begin training at 4am in the morning at the coaching center at a distance 25kms from her residence. Her father made sure none of that came in the way of excellence.

Harvir Singh Nehwal is currently a scientist working with the Directorate of Oilseeds Research placed in Hyderabad.


Saina Nehwal Achievements

Saina Nehwal Padma Bhushan
The Government of India has always recognised her outstanding contribution towards Badminton in India

After bursting forth into the mainstream in 2004, Saina first grabbed attention by becoming the U19 Champion in the Sport. She created history by becoming the first player to win the Asian Satellite Badminton tournament (India Chapter) twice. She also has the distinction of being the youngest Asian to win a 4-star tournament after she won the Phillipenes Open at the age of 16 in May 2006.

She is also the first Indian to win the elite BWF Super Series title after she won the Indonesia Open in 2009. She defeated Chinese Wang Lin on that occasion.

With 22 individual international titles till date and eight second-place finishes in various competitions, Saina is at par with the likes of Prakash Padukone when it comes to success in her field. What is remarkable about her feat is that she has achieved all of it within a very short span of time.

Looking at her medals, perhaps her greatest achievement is a third place finish at the 2012 Olympic Games held in London. She also has a Silver from the 2015 World Championships to her name. Her brilliance extends to national level tournaments too with 12 Junior/Senior titles to her name within the country.

Often credited with increasing the popularity of badminton within the country, Saina has been recognised for her consistent performances. The Government of India has, very rightly, felicitated her with the top two sporting achievement awards in the country- the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Arjuna Award. She is also the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the country's third highest civilian award, which was conferred on her in 2016.


Saina Nehwal Hobbies

Saina Nehwal Shahrukh Khan
Saina Nehwal is an ardent Bollywood movie enthusiast with her favourite actor being Shahrukh Khan

Other than pursuing badminton, she has a keen interest in karate which works wonders in disciplining the mind and body. She is an ardent enthusiast of the art since her school days and holds a brown belt in the discipline.

While not pursuing physical sports, Saina likes to relax as much as the rest of us with some quintessential ways to constructively do so. Music and art seem to be her preferred means while reading books occasionally also seems to help.

She follows Bollywood movies quite keenly and is an admirer of King Khan. In fact, she is fortunate enough to have met her favourite actor on at least one occasion.

Apart from this, she is quite a foodie and although she has travelled the world and experienced a variety of cuisines and lifestyles, the Indian way of cooking remains for her the most delectable and appetizing. 

Saina Nehwal World No 1
Saina created history in March 2015 when she won the India Open to reach the World No.1 rank for the first time

Saina Nehwal's ranking history

Currently standing at eighth in the world according to the latest BWF Rankings, it is safe to conclude that she is by no means at the pinnacle of her career at present. The years between 2006-2009 was a highly successful one for the Indian as she had just begun finding her ground. She created history on more than one instance and also became the first Indian woman to reach the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games held in Beijing in 2008.

She broke into the top 10 world ranks for the first time in 2009 and has maintained a place among them since then.

In 2014, Saina defeated Spain's Carolina Marin to win the Australian Super Series- a victory which helped her to climb up to the seventh position in the World Rankings.

In March 2015, Saina won the India Open BWF Super Series for the very first time after defeating Ratchanok Intanon in the finals. Consequently, when the new BWF rankings were released on April 2 that year, she created history by becoming the first Indian player to achieve the top spot in the world rankings. Although she slipped down to No 3 in July, the World No. 1 spot was hers to occupy as she held it from August 28 to October 15 that year.

She currently sits at eighth in the world in the latest BWF rankings as one of the two Indians in the Top 10. PV Sindhu is World No 10 at this point.


Saina Nehwal's Coach

Saina Nehwal coach
U Vimal Kumar is a former national level champion and Saina Nehwal’s current coach

The ace badminton coach in the country, Pullela Gopichand, had a hand in shaping Saina's style of play and honing her skills to provide a foundation strong enough to make her the player that she is. Gopichand is credited with guiding young Indian talents in the sport and his contribution to Indian badminton is remarkable. PV Sindhu and Srikanth Kidambi, India's Olympic heroes, are all proteges of this former player.

However, he seemed to have gotten unlucky with Saina. The duo worked together quite well for some time until Saina started losing quite a few games in a row. In fact, things were so bad that she even considered quitting the game altogether. This caused her to move to Bangalore where she started training under the tutelage of a former national champion, Vimal Kumar.

In Saina's own words, Kumar was able to provide her the special attention she needed to work on her strengths and weaknesses where necessary. The one on one interaction with her coach was, for her, an important part of the relationship as she continued to flourish.

Regardless of how things stand at this point, both Saina and Gopichand have nothing but praise and respect for each other's skills ever since they parted ways.


Saina Nehwal vs Carolina Marin

Carolina Marin Saina Nehwal
One of Saina’s most prominent on-field rivalries has been against Spain’s Carolina Marin

if one has been closely following Badminton in recent times, the competition and contest between India’s Saina Nehwal and Spain’s Carolina Marin has been a riveting watch. The two have come face-to-face 7 times till now and the Indian shuttler has got the better of her opponent on 4 different occasions. The two first met across the court in the Quarter Finals of the Djarum Indonesia Open 2013. It was a closely fought match and Nehwal emerged victorious with the score reading 21-16, 21-19 in her favour.

She also comfortably won her next meeting against Marin 21-18, 21-11 at the Star Australian Badminton Open 2014. U. Vimal Kumar described Marin’s play as “Tricky shots, but no patience” during the Australian Open Super Series and defeating Marin, Nehwal proved him correct, pocketing her first significant title of the year.

The two played each other 4 times in 2015 – the first match in the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships which Saina again won 19-21, 25-23, 21-16. It was a colossal 80-minute marathon final and Saina finally edged out the Spaniard to make it a 3-0 record.

However, Carolina Marin is not the reigning world champion for nothing. On international women’s day, Marin defeated Nehwal to become the first Spanish player to win the All England Championship 21-16, 14-21, 7-21 and a few months later Nehwal experienced her second successive defeat to world number one Carolina Marin in the final of the World Badminton Championship in Jakarta when she lost 16-21, 19-21.

Before their next meeting at the BWF Dubai Superseries Finals in Dec 2015, Nehwal went on record acknowledging Marin as a tough opponent with better wrist work but reassured fans by her belief that “Carolina Marin can be beaten”. And sure enough, she outclassed Marin 23-21, 9-21, 21-12 in the finals. Their last meeting was at the 2016 Indonesia Open where the two battled neck and neck in the first set but World No. 1 Marin took control of the second set to sweep past the Indian 21-11.

Theirs has been an engrossing sports rivalry that has not only entertained supporters but also managed to enrich the game itself. Carolina Marin continues her reign at the top of the rankings while Saina Nehwal is 8th at present. 

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