Congratulatory messages poured in for ace shuttler Saina Nehwal after she earned India its third medal in the London Olympics,clinching a bronze in the women’s singles event under fortuitous circumstances.
Saina emerged victorious after her opponent and world number two Xin Wang of China conceded the third-place play-off match due to a knee injury after winning the first game.
Former Asian badminton champion Dinesh Khanna feels this medal will give a big boost to Indian badminton.
“I am very happy to see Saina winning the bronze for India. It is a proud moment for India and it will give big boost to Indian badminton,” Khanna said.
“It was unfortunate the way the match turned out and Saina herself would have wanted to win it by playing the match. But its okay,this doesn’t take away anything and the medal shows that Indian badminton is at what level,” he said.
Saina’s achievements in the last few years has motivated many youngsters and it will provide a further boost for Indian shuttlers. Performance of male shuttler P Kashyap has also been extremely well in the London Games.
“Even against Lee Chong Wei,he played well in the first game and their performance shows we are up there and we can beat the Chinese and there is considerable depth in Indian badminton,” Khanna added.
Saina’s father,Harvir Nehwal was overwhelmed with emotions to see his daughter win the bronze medal. He thanked the Almight and the Indian fans and said it is a very proud moment for him.
“I want to thank God for this unexpected gift. She had made badminton her life,she was obsessed of winning a medal and if she would not have,then it would have been a big setback for her. But I am happy her hard work paid off,” Harvir said.
“Saina had beaten Xin in straight-games in the Super Series Final in December last year. So she could have beaten her today,perhaps in three games. I feel bad for Xin because I know what it feels to get injured at such a time,” he said.
Syed Mohammed Arif,a Dronacharya Awardee and Padma Shri recipient,who has coached many Indian shuttlers including Saina,said: “I am very happy,the whole country is proud of Saina. We had expected her to win and she won.
“Her opponent was tired and could not continue after being injured. Saina had come back brilliantly in the first game in the end and although she lost,she could have won the next two games. It is a proud moment for India,” he said.
“Govt has given a lot of exposure during the CWG and also before the Olympics and it is important for the BAI to continue the process to ensure that the second string also prosper and progress,” he added.
Uday Pawar,a former International,also said that it was a great moment for Indian badminton.
“Though Saina won because her opponent could not continue to play because of injury,nothing can be taken away from Saina. She definitely deserves a medal after what she has done over the last 2-3 years,” he said.
Pawar,a doubles specialist,said that the bronze medal will motivate several youngsters to take up the shuttle game while also increasing the confidence of the current players to take on the world’s best.
Even the twitter world was abuzz with congratulatory messages for the 22-year-old Indian.
Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh wrote: “Saina nehwal!! You beauty !! I’m sure like me every indian is proud of you many congratulations to you and gopichand too!!”