Saina eyes Olympic encore

Saina eyes Olympic encore
Highlights

Fresh from regaining the coveted Australian Open in Sydney, world number eight Saina Nehwal is all set to go the full hog for her final stretch of preparation for the ensuing Olympic Games in Rio.

Fresh from regaining the coveted Australian Open in Sydney, world number eight Saina Nehwal is all set to go the full hog for her final stretch of preparation for the ensuing Olympic Games in Rio.

Her eyes are set on improving upon her bronze showing at London. She looks fitter and more relaxed. The smile back on her face, Saina interacted with the media on arrival from New Delhi on Tuesday.

What we see today is a Saina who seems more motivated and absolutely confident about her abilities and presents a welcome change from the time when she packed her bags lock, stock and barrel and moved over to the Garden City.

This gains credence in the manner she went about the question and answer session. ‘Phew! It’s been 15 months since I won a tournament, although my subsequent performances at the World Championship and China Open were also morale-boosters given the stakes. The latest win is sweeter as I am coming out from injury and having undergone rehabilitation,’ points out Saina, who is currently under the wings of Vimal Kumar.

Not one to rest content with past laurels, Saina and her coach have drawn up a blueprint that is aimed at getting translated at Rio. However, she is guarded and well aware of the tough going at the greatest sports spectacle two months down the line.

‘The win has bolstered my confidence. I just hope I will be able to maintain my fitness and remain injury-free. I hope, with the kind of hard work I am putting in, I will come up with a better podium finish,’ contends the Haryanvi native.

‘Let’s be pragmatic. Every player wishes to win Olympic s glory and that is what makes it that much more competitive considering that one will derive the pleasure of winning laurels for the country., which is without a shade of doubt the ultimate motivator,’ she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

For one who credited Virat Kohli for infusing a hitherto unknown streak of aggression in her stroke-play, Saina’s immediate mantra is ‘working on improving my strokes. I was not moving well because of injuries. But I am back to my best zone, which is helping me to go in for crystal clear smashes on a more confident note. I want to be more aggressive, quicker on the court.’

Helping her reach peak form and stay focussed are Vimal and Umendra Varma. As things stand, Saina Nehwal is all geared up to conquer the Olympian challenges that await her.

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