Saina Nehwal is an Indian female badminton player who was born on 17 March 1990 at Hisar in Haryana. She is a right-handed shuttler who is a second generation badminton player. She is the first Indian female to have won an Olympic medal in a badminton event.
Saina Nehwal was training in Karate until 1998 when her father was transferred to Hyderabad. Since she couldn't mix up with the kids of her new locality due to language barriers, her mother started playing badminton with her.
Seeing her interest in the sport, her parents enrolled her at the Pullela Gopichand Academy where she started her professional training under S. M. Arif. Saina's first major victory came in the year 2003 when she won the Junior National Championship at the age of 13 years.
Later that year, she also won the Junior Czech Open. In the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games, she won the silver medal. She also won the Asian Satellite Badminton Tournament twice in a row in 2005 and 2006.
Rise to Glory
Saina made her first major impact in the Indian badminton when she helped the Indian Badminton Team to win the Bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Also, she won the Silver medal in the Girls Singles event at the 2006 World Junior Championship.
The year 2008 was yet again a successful year for Saina where she won 3 tournaments. She won the Gold medal in the Girls’ Singles event at the World Junior Championship as well as the Commonwealth Youth Games. She also won a Gold medal at the 2008 Chinese Taipei Grand Prix Gold in the Women's Singles event.
Saina was at the top of her performance in the year 2010, in which she won 5 international tournaments. She won the India Open Grand Prix Gold, Indonesia Open Super Series, Singapore Open Super Series and the Hong Kong Open Super Series in 2010. Also, she won a Gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games which were held in India.
Saina won back to back tournaments in 2012 such as the Swiss Open, Thailand Open, Indonesia Open, Denmark Open and the French Badminton Open. However, she had to console herself with a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Saina returned to the court in 2014 after recovering from an injury and won the India Grand Prix Gold, The Star Australian Badminton Open and the Thaihot China Open. In 2015, she won two tournaments – Syed Modi International Badminton Championship and the 2015 India Open.
Saina Nehwal has suffered many major and minor injuries which have kept her off the court for a long time. She kept herself away from the court for a major part of the 2013 season and this led to the loss of her form. Although she returned with a bang in 2014, again suffered an ankle injury.
Now, Saina Nehwal has become highly selective in choosing the tournaments and has won only three tournaments in the past three years.
Saina Nehwal has received 4 awards from the Government of India. She won the Arjuna Award for Badminton in 2009.
A year later in 2010, she won the Padma Shri and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, which is the highest sports honour in India. She was also awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2016 for her outstanding performance in the sport.