Saina Nehwal: "An individual player is a pearl and the Indian Olympic contingent completes the necklace"
Our athletes have managed to grab 26 medals since India's first participation at the Olympic Games since 1900. In the last decade, a lot has developed in Indian sports and performances have been slowly and steadily getting better. We won six individual medals four years back in London and that has been our best performance till date.
Two weeks from now on, our largest-ever contingent will be competing at Rio de Janerio, Brazil to better our medal haul. In a country hugely obsessed with cricket, it is not a big surprise that many aren't aware of the names of all athletes.
Although the players seem to be not bothered by that and have been preparing for the final time before entering the mega-tournament with very little spotlight on them. This lack of spotlight can be a blessing in disguise for them to fight their way in achieving greatness at the top-most level.
But then the Olympic dream continues to excite people. The Summer Games have shown time and again their capacity to unite the nation, be it when Abhinav Bindra grabbed the gold medal or when Mary Kom finished with a bronze.
One of the six medalists in London and a medal hopeful, this time, Saina Nehwal thinks an Olympic medal not only rewards an athlete's hard work but naturally a nation. It not only helps the country pride itself on its talented athletes but helps to unite in one voice. Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Nehwal said, "Each one of us is fighting for the country, so we are a team which needs support from every Indian. An individual player is a bead and all of us make the 'mala' which adorns the prestige of great India."
The former World No. 1 has put forward a very strong message in the film executed by Edelweiss Group, India's principal sponsor and conceptualized by ad filmmaker Ram Subramanian. "I want a great amount of love is shown to us by Indians cutting across caste, creed region or sex and the same tempo is maintained till the end the of Olympic Games. We will cherish the blessings of all Indian and try to transform these blessing into many medals for India," she said when asked how she wants the people of India to celebrate the spirit of Olympics.
"Nothing Means Anything", a video message by Saina Nehwal talks about how every sportsperson has struggled, sacrificed, and worked hard for the position they are in today. The brand ambassador of Edelweiss is seen delivering strong messages through placards. One of the finest individual athletes India has ever produced, she has done a lot of campaigning on social media for the past couple of months.
There are players who have struggled, sacrificed, and worked hard for the position they are in today. They are the same people who know how to respect and accept each other. While people are aware of Saina Nehwal and her achievements, many don't know about athletes like OP Jaisha who ate mud while growing up or Dattu Bhokanal from drought-affected Maharashtra who have struggled a lot to reach the top. "It is our luck where we are born, but destiny can be changed by hard work and it never goes unheard. I have full sympathy with these athletes. All of them are blessed persons," she said.
Nehwal quickly added, "Olympics is the highest level of games for athletes which comes once in 4 years. So the hard work of four years is the doorstep to enter the Olympics. I am very happy to represent India in the Summer Games for the third time."
Often we attribute an individual's success to him or her often forgetting how much the others have contributed to the win. For example, Saina Nehwal will be going with six more shuttlers comprising P.V. Sindhu, K. Srikanth, G. Jwala, Ashwini Ponnappa, Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy. Every player in the team is as important as the next. "Every one of us is a story in itself, be it Yogeshwar Dutt, Gagan Narang, or Tintu Luka. All have worked hard to reach this level. Gagan who had no money to buy a rifle or Yogeshwar who is very a down to earth person, everyone has a story that can touch the hearts of the people of India."
The ace shuttler feels that India has a chance of bagging a medal in almost every event. All of them have been working really hard to keep up their good sporting spirits and bring home as many medals as they can. "It is the support which encourages the athletes. Qualifying for Olympics means the entire team of athletes are potential candidates for winning a medal. There is a lot of scope to topple the London mark of six medals."
India always gets behind our sportsmen during big events and this time we have a great chance to create history. But as Saina Nehwal points out in the video, “Hard work can be kind and luck can be cruel.”
If we succeed, it will indeed be a positive boost to the future of sports in our country. Here's wishing Team India for bringing more glory this August: