HYDERABAD:From Hisar to Hyderabad. The transition was one of the turning points of badminton star Saina Nehwal’s career. Her father Harvir Singh is a proud man and says this is all destiny. “We never dreamt of coming to Hyderabad but for some reason we moved from Hissar and the rest is history. Saina’s rise is a result of 12 years of hard work that has helped her reach the pinnacle,” recalls an emotional Harvir as his daughter is the new World No 1 in the rankings to be officially released on Thursday.
The journey started in 1999-2000. “This is a proud moment for any parent. Today, I can’t believe she has achieved such a distinction. As a child, she was frail but it is all God’s will, that she was spotted by the late Govardhan and SM Arif. They felt Saina had the talent to become a good player. For me, taking her to the Lal Bahadur Stadium, which was 20 kms away, was one of the most enduring experiences. We are from a middle-class family and our focus was on giving a good education to Saina. Destiny proved otherwise. Encouraged by her growing interest and quick results, I had to make a decision in my life. I invested all my savings in her. It was a very difficult phase when we were struggling financially. I had to withdraw my provident fund and, of course, the office helped me. At times, we had to go without food. But I never gave up. I thought she was destined to bring glory to the country. Today, my daughter has given me a car, a house and more importantly fame. I’m proud of her. Daughters are real gold,” he said.
The teary-eyed Harvir said: “As a kid, she endured pain and sacrificed all pleasures for the game. She would work hours together for perfection. She would never give up. She is God’s gift to us. Her accolades are a reward for her discipline, hard work and dedication. ‘Papa, mujhe jeetena hai, she said.’ Today, she emulated Prakash Padukone. It is a very big day for Indian badminton.”
Is she an emotional girl? “She feels restless when she loses. But we have always encouraged her. I would say we learn from mistakes and defeats. But being a determined girl, her brain would be working tirelessly to overcome that shortfall.”
Being coached by Arif initially and then by Pullela Gopichand before leaving for Bengaluru in September last year, Harvir clarified that Saina definitely owes her rise to the duo. “They have played big roles in her career. However, her decision to train under Vimal Kumar came purely because of professional reasons. She told me she felt her game was getting stagnant. In fact, we had discussed with Gopichand and he agreed to the suggestion. There were no hard feelings. She thought a change of coach could help her career. Today, she stays in a small accommodation in Bengaluru with her mother. She feels now that it was a very important decision of her career.”