Saina Nehwal continued her giant strides, breaking through the ‘Great Wall of China’ with five international titles to become the world number two as Indian badminton rode on her success to rise in profile in a highly successful 2010. After a highly promising last year during which she won the Indonesian title, Saina proved once again why she is the brightest star in Indian badminton as she went several steps ahead this year.
The Hyderabadi became the first female Indian shuttler to win three back-to-back titles when she clinched the Indian Open Grand Prix Gold, Singapore Super Series and defended the Indonesian Open in June. But the icing on the cake came in October when the 20-year-old won the Commonwealth Games gold medal at the Sri Fort Complex.
She didn’t stop there and her insatiable hunger for success guided her to a third Super Series title when she won the Hong Kong Open last month to wipe out the disappointment of losing in the quarterfinals of the Asian Games. Twin honours at the national level added to her aura as she was conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Padma Shri awards.
"It has been nothing less than a dream year for me because even though I played in just five super series events out of 12 Super Series, I won three of them and it is a great feeling.
Commonwealth Games and Asian Games were important this year and I won the gold in Delhi, which was also a memorable moment. I also received the Padma Shri and Khel Ratna award.
What else can a player wish for," said Saina. National coach and her mentor Pullela Gopichand also said that it has been a remarkable year for Saina. "I has been a remarkable year for Saina. She has been playing like a champion and won back-to-back tournaments.
She missed many Super Series events or else she could have been number one by this year end but that is not the priority, winning more tournaments is. Saina has been handling pressure pretty well," Gopichand said. If Saina continued her giant strides, this year had a new star in men’s singles.
Even as established names such as Chetan Anand and Arvind Bhat struggled with injuries and poor form, P Kashyap increased his fan base when he won the Commonwealth Games bronze medal. The lad from Andhra Pradesh, who had finished runners-up in the Spanish Open and Open Volant d’Or last year, notched up some brilliant wins, defeating Indonesian Mohammad Hashim and England’s Rajiv Ouseph during his campaign at the Sri Fort Complex. He was consistent on the international scene as well and his exploits helped him end the year at a creditable 23rd in the international rankings.