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Saina says hates losing,seeing rivals celebrate

Says has to work harder than most as she doesn't always have the strokes

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: September 3, 2014 1:40:20 pm

Candid shuttler defends Gopichand,says has to work harder than most as she doesn’t always have the strokes

Even post-match celebrations tend to be muted when opponents get the better of Saina Nehwal. According to India’s ace shuttler,her competitors have now learnt to temper their happiness when they beat her for fear of angering her and facing her wrath the next time.

Speaking with a select audience on Friday at Express Adda — a series of conversations with people at the centre of change — the Olympic bronze medalist and World No. 2 admitted having acquired a reputation for being fiercely competitive and coming back with a vengeance if beaten by rivals. The Chinese are among those intimidated.

“The first time it happened that one of them celebrated,I got very angry and beat a bunch of them,” she recalled.

Disarmingly candid,Nehwal took on all questions from an audience that responded with warmth to her candour and charm.

The shuttler has always said that she considers questions that require her to be diplomatic the toughest and on Friday,she consistently eschewed being that,including launching into a fierce defence of P Gopichand,whose role as national coach while running his own academy has become a contentious issue.

“Tell me one other coach who is dedicating his life to badminton in the country. Gopi-Sir is at the academy at 5.30 in the morning and leaves very late. Have we ever spared a thought for his family? He’s produced so many champions. Why are we stopping someone who’s doing good and has shown results?” she said,lamenting that unlike China,India didn’t have hundreds of coaches working on producing champions.

Nehwal also patiently answered questions on another controversy,about her not turning up for tournaments in India. “My style of play is such that I need to be in top shape to win titles and need long preparation time before any big tournament. Sometimes,the knee,the ankle,the back are hurting a lot but we have to play international top meets because otherwise we have to pay hefty fines for withdrawing. But in India,I wish people didn’t expect me to play every tournament,though I get calls from all organisers. You have to understand that to win I need adequate rest and healing time for injuries and my schedule is prepared keeping that in mind,” she explained.

Likening both her game and attitude to the Chinese,she confessed that she was 70 per cent hard work and only 30 per cent talent. She had to work harder than anyone else since she didn’t always have the strokes,she added.

However,the rally specialist described with almost glee how much she enjoyed the marathon,drawn-out matches against Chinese Shixian Wang,whose game style twins Nehwal’s. “Our matches are always like those drama movies,they go on forever. After watching one that went on for over 90 minutes,I remember wondering ‘Did we really play those long points?’,” she said.

Nehwal credited her mother with spurring her on and instilling in her the spirit to never quit without a fight,after having slapped her once after a loss in her early years,and her father for her simplicity. Up until his retirement this year,she said,her father didn’t mind fixing his own breakfast and carrying his own luggage.

The World No. 2 admitted that losses hurt her badly and that she often refuses to speak to anyone,including her parents,after a loss,choosing to be left alone,“sitting in the same place for two hours,as I think about what went wrong”. However,now 23,she has stopped crying after a loss, “because it doesn’t help.”

Nehwal admitted being a Shah Rukh fan and loving Bollywood movies — she enjoyed Jolly LLB with her parents recently — but dismissed fears of limelight luring her away from the game.

“I don’t know how it’s possible to just get up one day and become an actress. I find it hard to pose for an ad shoot for half an hour in heels. It’ll be impossible to shoot a movie for days without possessing any acting skills!” she said,adding that she would rather stick to her 6 am-9 pm schedule while obsessing over her game.

“I can also do those things — acting like a diva sportsperson — but it doesn’t suit me,” she said,in another of her honest admissions.

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