India’s one of the most promising female shuttler, Saina Nehwal, was born on 17 March 1990 in Hisar District, Haryana to Harvir Singh Nehwal and Usha Nehwal, both former badminton players. Saina is also a philanthropist and was ranked 18th on the list of most charitable athletes. Although ranked 10th by the BWF currently, Saina couldn’t be barred from achieving a phenomenal synopsis of 401 career wins.
Saina began playing badminton as early as the age of eight years, training under the guidance of Dronacharya awardee S. M. Arif at Pullela Gopichand Academy. Her career kickstarted with the win in the Junior National Championship at the young age of 13.
In 2003, she went on to win the Junior Czech Open. Nehwal begged the second position in the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games and became the first player to win the Asian Satellite Badminton tournament twice (in 2005 and 2006).
Rise to glory
Nehwal caught the eye at the age of 16 when she helped India get team bronze in 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Winning the super-series tournament, the Philippines Open in the same year, Saina registered her potential.
In 2009, she became the first Indian to win the Indonesia Open. The year 2010 emerged as one of the most successful years for Saina as she won five tournaments, including India Open Grand Prix Gold, Indonesia Open, Singapore Open and Hong Kong Super Series and clinched bronze medal at the Asian Badminton Championship.
Top seeded at the event, Saina won the World Junior Badminton Championship defeating the Japanese rival Sayaka Sato 21-9 21-18 in 2008. At the CWG 2010 finals, Saina seized the gold in singles in an epic 70 minute clash against Malaysian Mew Choo Wong (19-21, 23-21, 21-13) and went on embracing a silver in the mixed team event.
With a bronze at 2012 London Olympics, Nehwal created history by becoming the first Indian badminton player to win a medal at the Olympics. Later, the Hyderabad player clinched the 2012 Danish Open Super series title becoming the only Indian after Prakash Padukone to win the title.
In 2015, Saina won her maiden women's singles title at the India Open BWF Super Series, reassuring her world number one title awarded by the BWF rankings released later that year.
Saina Nehwal's Records
Nehwal has been aspiring the young talents all over the world with her astounding performance since 2003. Her uphill battle towards development has landed her with many prestigious awards and honors, first among them being named the Most Promising Player of the Year by BWF in 2008.
In 2009, acknowledging her outstanding performance in national sports, the Government of India granted her the Arjuna Award. A year later, Saina was honoured with India’s highest award for sporting excellence - the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
Furthermore, she was conferred with the Padma Shri(2010) and Padma Bhushan(2016)-the fourth and third highest civilian award in the Republic of India respectively.