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Saina revels in global fame as Most Promising Player of 2008

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Shivani Naik

Posted: Dec 09, 2008 at 0009 hrs IST

Mumbai Keeping pace with the fleet-footed Chinese badminton champions on court are the many sets of tiny tripod stands with natty handy-cams for video analysis, used by coaching teams of top shuttle nations. Those stalking cameras following Saina Nehwal from court to court, capturing the nuances of her game, were a quiet admission of the badminton world’s growing interest in the 18-year-old over the last one year. Close on the heels of Nehwal’s maiden entry into the top-10 league of badminton, the Badminton World Federation made the global spotlight on her official, by electing Nehwal the world’s Most Promising Player of 2008 at BWF’s Council Meeting in Seoul.

“I think I deserved it,” Nehwal says, pleased at how the year has unfolded in dream-like fashion. “It’s been an unbelievable year, and this gives me added confidence to continue in the same vein,” is how the teenager sums up the MPP-tag.

Celebrations will be low-key and restricted to her academy mates, as she continues her daily training. “I can’t stay a day without badminton. I can only relax if I’ve trained,” she adds. Nehwal admits that interview requests from foreign media have gone up as the year has progressed, and players and coaches recording her games are subtle pointers to the world acknowledging her steady rise.

Raphael Sachetat, the chief editor of Badzine International, a leading chain of websites for badminton information, confirms those claims when he says, “Saina deserves to be in the Top 10. I don’t think India has had this recognition for a while and the fact that Saina not only got the MPP recognition, but also took rapid strides in the senior circuit, is great,” he says.

The road ahead is daunting, and she’ll need support for the future — from the federation, the coaches and physio, so she can focus on her game.Sachetat, who commends the youngster’s guts, smart game, varied strokes and calm temperament, adds, “She’s quick and powerful even if not as tall as others. She has the talent to defeat anyone. The most difficult thing would be to do it 4-5 days in a row at major events,” he says.

“Saina’s a delightful person off court. Very humble, mature and focussed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the first Indian to win a major title since Gopi’s All England, and maybe even bigger things,” Sachetat assures.

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Congratulations by Megha on 09 Dec 2008

Congratulations Saina! Badminton fans have something to look forward to after a long span of time. Keep it up.. :)

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