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Saina Nehwal opens up about her pain, end of career

The Olympian hopes to stay in contention for the year ending Superseries Finals in Dubai, however, the most important question is whether her body will co-operate with her
Credit: ESPN

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After winning over 20 international titles, which include ten Superseries titles, it seems Olympian shuttler Saina Nehwal is approaching her career end at the age of 26 years. In 2012, the Padma Shri awardee had won the Bronze medal at London Olympics, thus, becoming the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in the sport. However, the pain in her knee seems to be the Achilles’ heel for the sportsperson.

In an exclusive interview with ESPN, she said: “It is okay, many people will think my career will end and I won’t come back. I also think somewhere deep in my heart that maybe it is the end of my career, so let’s see how it is. Maybe, you never know.”

Saina Nehwal suffered an Achilles injury during her runner-up finish at the World Championships in August 2015, and aggravated the injury after playing in the China Super Series Premier.

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She played through the pain at the BWF World Super Series finals in December and the Premier Badminton League (PBL) in January, only to increase the extent of the injury. With the pain only increasing, she was forced to skip the Syed Modi GPG, the South Asian Games and the Asian Badminton Team Championships in February.

After undergoing physiotherapy, Saina returned to the badminton court in March, for the All-England Championships and also reached the semi-final of the Swiss Open GPG.

Although she sounded confident of getting another Olympic medal for India at Rio, the pain surfaced again just before the big event.

The flare up in her knee ahead of Rio, her third Olympic quest, has alerted Saina to a pattern. It began a week before the Games, hurt all the way and excruciated “as she limped out of the Games on losing the second match”. Her physiotherapist Heath Matthews was stumped seeing her determination to even step onto the court with that much pain.

Credit: ESPN

Credit: ESPN

“I will be more than happy if people think I am finished, it is nice in a way, people think a lot about me, maybe now they won’t. So for me it is just about how to take care of my body and be in good shape because these injuries are quite painful,” the shuttler said.

Recognising that she won’t be “100%” even if she does step onto the court in China but insisting she would “try her best”, Saina is entered to play at the China Open from November 15, followed by the Hong Kong Open from November 22. She hopes to stay in contention for the year ending Superseries Finals in Dubai, however, the most important question is whether her body will co-operate with her.

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