Her Life: In a League of Her Own
- Year 1990 – Born in Haryana.
- Year 2010 – Won the gold medal in New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
- Year 2012 – Won the bronze medal at the London Olympics.
- Year 2012 – Published her autobiography – Playing to Win: My Life On and Off Court.
- Year 2014 – Launched her own badminton academy.
“My philosophy is to not be scared of anyone. If I play well, great; if I don’t, I learn from the match and move on.”
Saina Nehwal is an Indian Badminton player who became the first Indian woman to achieve rank no 1 in the world. She has more than 23 international titles to her name. She is one of the most athletic badminton players who has made badminton famous all over India.
Saina was born on March 17, 1990 in Hissar, Haryana to Dr Harvir Singh Nehwal and Usha Rani Nehwal. She was introduced to badminton by her parents, who were former badminton champions in Haryana. When Saina was eight, she was spotted by PSS Nani Prasad Rao (badminton coach at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh). After watching her game, Rao convinced her father to allow her to pursue a career in badminton.
Saina took up badminton at the age of eight when her father was transferred from Haryana to Hyderabad. She has finished her 12th from St. Ann’s College for Women in Mehdipatnam, Hyderabad. On December 14, 2018, Saina married Parupalli Kashyap, who is also a badminton player. She is a fan of Sachin Tendulkar, who gifted her a BMW after she won a gold medal in Olympics (2012).
During her formative years, her training expense started causing financial problems in her family. But they managed somehow as her parents wanted to see her become a national champion. The first major success in her life came in 2006 when she became the first Indian shuttler to win the Philippines Open. The same year, she was also a runner-up at the BWF World Junior Championships. In 2008, she reached the quarterfinals of the Beijing Olympics and became the first Indian woman to do so.
In September 2008, Saina won the Yonex Chinese Taipei Open by beating Malaysia’s Lydia Cheah Li Ya and became the Most Promising Player of 2008. In 2009, she broke another record by winning the Indonesian Open. The following year, Nehwal won a gold medal in the women’s singles event at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games. Also, she became the first Indian to win a BWF Super Series title the same year.
Nehwal won the Swiss Open Title in 2012 and even won the Indonesia Open Super Series. On August 4, 2012, she won the bronze medal at the London Olympics. In 2018, at the Jakarta Asian Games, she fetched the bronze medal for India in Women’s Singles. In the same year, she was ranked 9th in the BWF rankings.
Awards and Recognition
She was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2009, Padma Shri in 2010, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2010 and Padma Bhushan in 2016. She has received honorary degrees from the Mangalayatan University and the SRM Institute of Science and Technology. Also, many organizations and state governments awarded her cash prize after her win at the 2012 London Olympics.
In 2012, she wrote her autobiography – Playing to Win: My Life On and Off Court. In 2014, Saina launched her first badminton academy in Gaur City in Greater Noida West. She is also the face of the government’s Beti Bachao campaign. She was appointed a member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Athletes’ Commission in 2016. She has also appeared on the covers of many magazines like Health, Women, Femina, etc. She has also appeared in as a guest in many T.V shows like Satyamev Jayate and The Kapil Sharma Show.