Saina gets sharp after failure

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After failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Saina Nehwal faces a difficult road ahead: Kumar, Vimal.

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Friday, 25th June 2021

Former India badminton coach Vimal Kumar feels a "difficult" future awaits Saina Nehwal, who will need to target certain tournaments to continue her career after the COVID-19 virus wrecked her Tokyo Olympics aspirations. Saina, 31, was forced to withdraw from her fourth Olympics after the sport's governing organisation, the BWF, postponed the final three qualifiers owing to the epidemic. "After Prakash Padukone, she shot to fame in 2005-06 and has been a major trendsetter ever since." She's been a regular performer for many years, and it's a shame she didn't qualify this year. "I believe she's had a bit of bad luck in the last two Games," Vimal said to PTI.

Saina, who had advanced to the Beijing Games quarterfinals, suffered a career-threatening knee injury just days before the 2016 Rio Olympics, and was eliminated in the second round.

Saina rebounded in 2018 to win her second Commonwealth Games gold and stayed on track for a Tokyo berth before faltering in the last two years.

Is it even conceivable to compete in another Olympic Games?

"It's quite difficult. She has been injuring herself on a regular basis. I'm not sure, it's a difficult undertaking, and to be honest, the Olympics should no longer be a priority "Vimal remarked.

"Since January 2019, when she won the Indonesia final because Carolina Marin was injured, her performance has steadily deteriorated. She hasn't done anything noteworthy since then. Of course, for the most part, it was all COVID."

Vimal believes it will all come down to her desire to achieve in the sport she has been doing for over 15 years.

Also read: PV Sindhu will be under pressure at the Olympics, and winning a medal will be difficult, according to Jwala Gutta.

"At this point, no substantial modifications can be made; she must take care of her health," he added. "Sports is tough; it's difficult for the body to handle that level of intensity."

"She is still superior than the rest of the young players, but the spotlight will now be on them." If she still has that willingness and hunger, she will have to manage and look for ways to play the circuit on her own.

"She is presently coached by (Parupalli) Kashyap. If she can accomplish all of this, she will be able to play for at least another couple of years, which will be beneficial to other Indian players."

The News Talkie Bureau



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