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Saina Nehwal Dedicates Padma Bhushan Award To Coach Vimal

Saina with U. Vimal Kumar. (Image Courtesy: www.seeandsay.in).

Saina with U. Vimal Kumar.
(Image Courtesy: www.seeandsay.in).

MUMBAI: India ace shuttler Saina Nehwal on Monday dedicated her Padma Bhushan award to coach U. Vimal Kumar under whose guidance she rose to the top of the world rankings.

It is noteable and remarkable that already the 25-year-old Saina has already been a recipient of the Arjuna Award (2009), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2010) and Padma Shri (2010).



U. Vimal kumar. (Image Courtesy: archive.deccanherald.com).

U. Vimal kumar.
(Image Courtesy: archive.deccanherald.com).

“I would like to thank the ministry for giving me Padma Bhushan. It is a great feeling, very honoured. I would like to dedicate the award to my coach U. Vimal Kumar sir totally. The way he has helped me in the last one year is great and made me become World No.1 and so many other achievements,” Saina said in a statement.

“Also, I would like to thank my parents, physio Sidhharth and trainer Deckline Leitao for supporting me so much,” the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist added.

Ahead of the 2014 Asian Games, Saina decided to move out of Pullela Gopichand Academy and switched her training base to Bengaluru under the guidance of Vimal. Her decision came after being laid low by a spate of injuries and a series of disappointing losses, including the 2014 BWF World Championships.

She started 2015 on a brilliant note by winning the India Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow, beating reigning world champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the final. She followed it up with her lone Superseries title, The India Open which she won after defeating the former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the finals.

Saina also won the 2014 China Open title and in 2015, reached the finals of three prestigious events, All-England, World Championships and China Open.

Saina is one of India’s biggest hopes of winning a medal at the forthcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

Padma Bhushan is India’s third highest civilian award after Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan.

Lee Chong Wei Would Be Tough To Beat At Rio Olympics: Pullela Gopichand

P Gopichand.(Image Courtesy: indianexpress.com).

P Gopichand.
(Image Courtesy: indianexpress.com).

DELHI: Indian badminton team’s chief coach Pullela Gopichand is very impressed in the manner former world No 1 Lee Chong Wei has comeback after serving a doping ban and dubbed him as one of the toughest contenders for gold medal in this year’s Rio Olympics.

The 33-year-old star shuttler was handed out an eight-month ban in April last year for a doping violation after traces of a banned substance were found in his system.

However, he made a brilliant comeback into the international circuit with victories at the US Open, Canada Open, French Open, China Open and a silver at World Championships.

“He has been an amazing sportsperson. He has the highest quality fitness, concentration and a great ambassador of the sports. It’s unfortunate whatever happened to him but that created a window, wherein a few other players benefitted. He has always been strong. He had his problems against a few top players in the world (from China) but other than that, he has ruled the world badminton in the last few years,” Gopichand said.

“He will be someone who will be really difficult to beat because of his pure speed and sting in his strokes that makes him very very effective.”

“I have a great lot of respect for someone like Cheng Long. He is a fantastic individual, with whatever he has he maximizes it. He goes back and comes back very strongly in terms of his physical and mental preparations. So I wouldn’t rule out somebody like Cheng Long ever,” he said.

“Lin Dan is the big match player and Lee Chong Wei has always tripped at the last hurdle. So I think they have the experience and grit on their side and Lee has the desire to win the big match. All three make it difficult for other players. Both Cheng Long and Lin Dan are the players to beat and they are not going to give it easy to him.

“Conditions and preparations make a lot of difference. I think a fully fit and focused Lee is a handful to everybody. It is not going to be easy unless you are prepared to beat him because he has got that consistency where you really need to break him.”

Kidambi Srikanth.(Image Courtesy: httpwww.indiansportsnews.com).

Kidambi Srikanth.
(Image Courtesy: httpwww.indiansportsnews.com).

“I think it was a great match. Srikanth was fired up and aggressive but I think it is important that he has to be consistent. In the life of a sports person, I think a win is not the end of it or a loss is the end of it. So I think he just needs to get this head down and fight,” Gopichand said.

“I think the pressure here is far more because of the format, as there are a lot of people who are passionate, the coach, the owners and the money which is paid. So it makes it a lot of pressure and it is helpful to players,” he added.

India is likely to field its biggest ever badminton contingent at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and Gopichand said his wards will look at each tournament from now on as a preparation for the Games.

“I think it is a little premature to talk about Olympics at this point because the Olympic qualification is still on. There are quite a few big events and each player will go about preparing for those in a way as if that is the Olympics. Whether it is India Super Series, Asian Championship, All England. So they will really go after these tournaments.
“I have to ensure that they have the best progression for the Olympics,” he said.

Saina. (Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

(Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

The Chinese women players lost their dominance in world badminton in the last one year as Spain’s Carolina Marin and India’s Saina Nehwal achieved the World No. 1 and 2. Gopichand said the Chinese will find it difficult to regain that dominance as many players with varied styles have become more stronger.

“Whatever the Chinese have done have not worked and a lot of players have figured them out. So they have not been able to get a comprehensive strategy for everybody. Earlier, they used to win on fitness but now others have also become fitter and stronger.

“It won’t be easy to crack them because they are very diverse, one is from Japan, one from India, one from Spain so there are different styles. So they will find it difficult,” he said.

Asked if players are finding it difficult to match Carolina Marin’s speed, Gopichand said: “It is not difficult to match. I think when a player is winning, it feels like it is difficult to match. I think adaptability is the key. Our players also have the speed and it is about how they negate the speed. She for the moment seems good but we have also seen that she can be vulnerable,” Gopi signed off.

Gopi also praised veteran Dan and reminded how Lee always lost big finals to the champion Chinese.

Academies Mandatory In Every State To Match China: Prakash


Prakash Padukone.
(Image Courtesy: luvpoemz.blogspot.com).

MUMBAI: India needs to set up a badminton academy in every state to tap the amount of talent the country has and to match with powerhouse China, feels shuttle legend Prakash Padukone.

India, currently, has less number of academies, the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bengaluru, Pullela Gopichand Academy, Chetan Anand Badminton Foundation (CABF), Vijayawada and the Nikhil Kanetkar Badminton Academy in Pune are some of the renowned academies in our country.

“But we need more. We need 30 academies in the long run in order to compete with China. That’s the sort of talent we have. Each state should have one academy, run by dedicated and properly qualified coaches who are prepared to put in the hard work,” the 60-year-old told PTI in an interview here.

“Players come from all over the country, but there’s no academy in the north barring the one in Lucknow. The government is also spending on foreign coaches.

“If each state cannot have an academy, SAI (Sports Authority of India) should have one in each of the six zones including north east. But the key is to find the right personnel to manage them. There are good SAI coaches. The need is to identify them and give support and recognition. That’s the key,”.

Prakash said that these zonal academies can act as feeder lines to his academy, the academy of national coach Gopichand and the one in Lucknow which can be treated as national academies.

“SAI has centres. Some are doing well and some are not. Once they produce results it’s important to give recognition. From there (the zonal or state academies) we can pick up talent to be further trained Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Lucknow which are like national academies. That’s the right way (to go about),” he said.

Prakash said there was a number of talented juniors now in the country, especially in the boys, who can rise up to the world level in the near future with proper grooming.

“There are a lot of juniors, especially among boys, with a lot of potential to do well at the world level in, may be 5-8 years. Siril Verma is doing well and reached the final in World Juniors (in Lima, Peru, in November).

“Then there are Lakshya Sen and Chirag Sen. There are also others from Hyderabad or Bangalore. They have a fairly good potential. There are a few girls too. Ruthvika Shivani Gadde is one who has the height, but needs to work hard.”

He welcomed the revival of the badminton league in its new avatar – Premier Badminton League – and hoped it’s held regularly and at a specific period during the year.

“It’s good for the game. I hope it happens and happens every year and there is no break in between. In the initial year it was a grand success – marketing and popularity-wise – and also helped the game a lot.

“I don’t know why for two years it did not happen. There were some issues between the (previous) organisers and the federation (Badminton Association of India). I hope such issues do not come up and even if they come up they are sorted out.

“International players were asking when it’s coming up, if there is a break — it got postponed 5-6 times – players lose interest. Most of the foreign players plan their calendar well in advance, especially in an Olympic year. They (PBL organisers) should have a fixed slot, like in IPL. If they can convince BWF (Badminton World Federation), that will be a great help.”

Asked why an Olympic sport like badminton has not really prospered around the world and has been largely confined to the Asian continent and some parts of Europe, Prakash felt it could be because of lack of funds.

“There’s a need to popularise the sport. It’s slowly happening. There may not be enough funds. Being an Olympic sport a lot more countries are playing badminton, like Uzbekistan.”

“The standards may not have gone up or are going up slowly. There may not be a bunch of players coming up from say Spain, France, Germany, Nertherlands etc. These countries’ federations need more funds,” said the former badminton great.

“In USA they are trying (to popularise) by holding World Championships. In Australia, tournaments have been upgraded but players have not come up. Lack of funds is one of the major reasons for not able to develop the sport the way they want.”

Asked about the point-rally system, “Stroke-play has come down to a great extent. Now they only smash. They like to be on the attack most of the time as they are not confident. If you clear (toss high) or play a defensive stroke you may lose the point.

“To some extent it’s true and taken some sheen off the game. But it’s evolution of the game, like in cricket where you have T20 now. You have to adapt and players are doing so.”

Saina Squad, A Fruitful Venture For Saina In Tournaments!


DUBAI: The ‘Saina Squad’ provided the expected vocal support from the auduence chairs inspiring Saian to come up with a spectacular performance on the recently concluded BWF Super Super Series Finals at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai.

Saina. (Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

(Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

Saina, need the much needed support from the selected “Saina squad” to down the world No. 1 on the second day and admitted for registering one of her most memorable victories of her career, defeating Marin in the league rounds

Although, Saina could not live up to the expectations and bowed out of the competition with her second defeat in three league matches on Friday.

“It was great to get a massive support from the fans and that too outside India. I am really thankful to the ‘Saina Squad’ members as they constantly encouraged me during my match against Carolina. The huge cheering pumped me up and suddenly I got that extra energy. I am not fully fit now but that emotional cheering really charged me up and I came up with an extraordinary win, surprising everybody, including myself,” Saina told TOI after she overcame her nemesis in three games.

In individual sports, ‘Saina Squad’ has perhaps set the new trend as a group of 20 fans travelled to Dubai to cheer the shuttler. The idea of forming ‘Saina Squad’ came after the Indian lost a close final against Marin in the last World Championship in Indonesia. Marin supporters in the stands were so loud and aggressive that it helped her win a hard-fought match. Star Sports took the initiative and launched a massive campaign in India after which they finalized 20 most passionate followers of Saina.

“It is always nice to get such support. The cheering by Indian fans is sometimes crazy but I like that. I thought Carolina made some unforced errors as she did not expect such a round of applause for me. She normally doesn’t commit those mistakes. It worked well for me in this tournament. I just hope this bunch accompanies me whenever I go,” said Saina.

BWF-Dubai World Superseries Finals 2015, Dubai – UAE


Round Robin Round (11-Dec-2015):

Men’s Singles:

  1. Kidambi Srikanth [9] lost to CHOU Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 21-17, 21-13.

Women’s Singles:

  1. Saina Nehwal [2] lost to TAI Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei 16-21, 21-18, 21-14.

Round Robin Round (10-Dec-2015):

Men’s Singles:

  1. Srikanth [9] lost to Victor Axelsen of Denmark 21-13, 21-18.

Women’s Singles:

Saina.(Image Courtesy: http:// timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

(Image Courtesy: http:// timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

  1. Saina Nahwal [2] Defeated Carolina Marin of Spain 23-21, 9-21, 21-12.

Round Robin Round (09-Dec-2015):

Men’s Singles:

  1. Srikanth [9] lost to Kento Momota of Japan 21-13, 21-13.

Women’s Singles:

  1. Saina Nehwal [2] lost to Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-14, 21-6.

List Of Participants:

Men’s Singles – Group B:

Kidambi Srikanth. (Image Courtesy: results.glasgow2014.com).

Kidambi Srikanth.
(Image Courtesy: results.glasgow2014.com).

  1. Kidambi Srikanth [9].

Women’s Singles – Group A:

Saina-Nehwal (www.topnews.in)__1

  1. Saina Nehwal [2].

About the Tournament:

Tournament Name: BWF-Dubai World Superseries Finals 2015.

Tournament Dates: 09-Dec-2015 to 13-Dec-2015.

Category: Superseries Finals.

Events: MS, WS, MD, WD, XD

Venue: Hamdan Sports Complex.

City: Dubai.

Country: United Arab Emirates.

Prize Money: Not Available.

Nehwal Facing Super Series Finals Exit


DUBAI: Saina Nehwal, looks certain to depart early from the Super Series finals in Dubai.

Nehwal lost to Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-14, 21-6.

Saina.(Image Courtesy: www.thenational.ae).

(Image Courtesy: www.thenational.ae).

Nehwal admitted she has not been able to train since injuring an Achilles tendon three weeks ago, and her movement was just not light enough or enduring enough against Okuhara who, as she said, “gets everything back”.

Saina is is featuring in the group containing Carolina Marin of Spain, and the title holder Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan.

Both of them look in decent shape, and both of them she would probably have to beat to be able to qualify for the semi-finals.

“I’m not putting myself under any pressure to win these,” she said.
“It’s going to be very, very, very tough.”

Earlier, in the tournament Marin fought back from behind in the first game before winning it 21-16, 21-9 over Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying.

“They were too slow,” Marin explained. “I had to get the speed changed and that made a difference.”

The other women’s winners were Wang Yihan, the former world champion, who won in three games against Wang Shixian.

Ratchanok, who saved four match points 19-21, 23-21, 21-14 and claimed victory over Sung Ji-Hyun, the world number four from South Korea.

Three of them came in a row from 17-20 in the second game.

“I just tried not to think too much,” Intanon said, when asked how she coped with the crises. “That’s what I do in training. I don’t think then.”

Saina Nominated For The Women Player Of The Year Award By BWF


Saina-Nehwal (www.topnews.in)__1Saina Nehwal has been nominated for the Woman Player of the Year Award for the year 2015 by the BWF as Nehwal had a good run this year and also having gained the no.1 spot for a brief time.

Saina, a former World No. 1, who is currently ranked no.2 in the world, will be competing for this award with other top-ranked stars like Carolina Marin of Spain, 2014 winner Zhao Yunlei of China and Bao Yixin.
Saina’s consistent run includes reaching the finals of the BWF World Championships, the All England Open, and the Thaihot China Open. She also won the home leg of the World Superseries tour in Delhi.

The world number one Carolina Marin of Spain has had a perfect run, though, throughout the year. She won the All England Championship in March and the Hong Kong Open in November. She also clinched three World Superseries titles and also defended her World Championship title.

Zhao was the premier woman doubles player of the year, also winning six Mixed Doubles Superseries. She won eight Superseries titles in 2015, which includes two World Championships – in the Women’s Doubles and the Mixed Doubles category and the Japan and Hong Kong open titles in Women’s Doubles category.

Bao Yixin has been an all-round performer, winning the Mixed Doubles title at the All England Open and the India Open. She also reached the finals of the World Championships, the Australia Open and the Hong Kong Open.

The winners of the award will be announced at the Gala Dinner and the player’s reception at the Dubai World Superseries Finals on December 7 2015.