NEW DELHI, Sept 13: Saina Nehwal is aware that qualifying for the Paris Olympics will be “tough” for her but the injury-ravaged Indian shuttler has no plans to quit badminton and would do everything under the sun to resurrect her career.
Laid low by a spate of injuries, including a recurring knee issue, and other health problems, the 33-year-old from Hyderabad has found it tough to stay fit to consistently turn up at the BWF World Tour events.
Her ranking has plummeted to number 55 in the world.
“I get inflammation in my knee whenever I train for an hour or two. I am not able to bend my knee so a second session of training is not possible. The doctors have given me a couple of injection. Of course the Olympics is near and it is tough (to qualify),” Saina told reporters.
“But I am trying my level best to comeback. The physios are helping me but if the inflammation doesn’t reduce, it will take little more time to recover. I also don’t want to play half-heartedly and results will also not come.
“If you are trying to compete against An Seyoung, or Tai Tzu Ying or Akane (Yamaguchi), it won’t happen with just one hour of training. The level has improved so much. So when you are playing such high level players, you need a high level game,” Saina, who was named the ‘Race Ambassador’ for Harvest Gold Global Race on September 24 in Gurugram, said.
The former world number 1 last played at the Singapore Open in June this year.
It was her sixth tournament of the season. She managed just one quarterfinal finish in 14 events in 2022, while a semifinal finish at Orleans Masters was her best performance in 8 events in 2021.
“If you are thinking about the knee showing inflammation after a training, then in tournament also if it shows up after one round, then it will be a negative sign.
“I am trying to sort out that first. Playing is easy, to maintain the body, to not have any niggles is what is important. Hopefully with the guidance of physios and Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala, let’s see how I recover and comeback. It all depends on practice.”
The two-time world championships medallist Saina last won a title in January 2019 at the Malaysia Masters.
While knee has been a recurring issue, she also had problems with groin and ankle, besides being diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis with mild pancreatitis in the past.
Asked about retirement, Saina said: “Woh toh sab ko karna parta hai (everyone has to retire someday)…there is no deadline. Everyone is going to stop when you feel the body is not supporting you.” (PTI)