Saina Nehwal clears air, says emotional outburst resulted in pull-out controversy

Social media is scary. London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal never thought that a tweet could land her in a situation that was avoidable before the Commonwealth Games.

Published: 06th April 2018 02:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th April 2018 04:54 PM   |  A+A-

Saina Nehwal (left) with team members in Gold Coast on Thursday | PTI

Express News Service

GOLD COAST : Social media is scary. London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal never thought that a tweet could land her in a situation that was avoidable before the Commonwealth Games. It has drawn mixed reactions from the sporting fraternity here and back home, especially the leaked email in which she threatened to pull out from the Games.On a balmy morning here at the Carrara Sports Arena, after the mixed team win against Sri Lanka, Saina clears her position. She says it was an emotional outburst. It was at 11 pm that she was informed her father Harvir Singh would not be allowed to stay with her in the Village.

What hurt her most is officials told her at the last moment. She had paid around `75000 (A$1480) for her father to stay at the Village. “The Indian Olympic Association assured me that he will be allowed to stay,” she says. “Then at 11 pm, they tell me he can’t and that his name was struck from the list.” He stayed at a hotel booked by the IOA. She says her parents travel with her everywhere and that this was not the first time. Even the next day, the IOA had done nothing. They did not tell Saina how or why Harvir’s name was struck out from the list. That hurt her and made her emotional. She had tried calling up IOA officials but to no avail. Without thinking of the consequences, she shot off three tweets and mailed the IOA.

Saina’s insistence on her father being with her at the Games Village perhaps shows her isolation inside the camp. Though she has not complained, she may not be comfortable staying alone. Emotional support contributes to one’s performance. The leaking of the letter too did not help. The silence of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has only added to the intrigue.IOA believes it has committed no wrong. Their clarification borders on the absurd but they say BAI was informed about the situation. The IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta, to whom the mail was sent, says they are not at fault.

“We have written 20 mails to the federation and their officials have been told that her father may not be able to stay in the Village,” says Mehta, pointing fingers towards BAI. “They were not taking calls or checking mails. What can we do?”The money that was paid only assured his free movement within the Village, use of other amenities and food. “It doesn’t guarantee a bed,” Mehta says. On why they did not inform Saina about this, he contends that federation officials were informed. “Finally, everything has been sorted.”On court, Saina did not let these distractions show as she produced two clinical displays in the mixed team event. 

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