Celebrity Rapid Fire: Saina Nehwal in conversation with YourStory

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As India’s ace badminton player Saina Nehwal gets set to bring glory at the ongoing World Badminton Championships in Guangzhou, China, Yourstory.in has an exclusive interview with the champion who has captured the imagination of the youth with her early success. What is her winning mantra? How does she handle setbacks? Who inspires her? Find out these and more in this interaction with YourStory journalist Dipti Nair.

The best way to get an inkling of a celebrity’s attitude towards success is to interact with the people who surround her. When I called to speak with Olympics Bronze medal winner and India’s ace badminton player Saina Nehwal, her father answered the call. He was most apologetic about Saina not able to take the call. “Her mother says she has not yet come home,” he informed me, but added quickly gauging the disappointment in my voice, “You can mail her your questions, she will surely answer them in the night.”

Without expecting much, I did as he told me to and forgot about it till the news channels played out the big news of the day where Saina was a prize catch at the Indian Badminton League (IBL) auction having been bought for over Rs 70 lakhs. I had very little hope now of getting across to the star what with all the media wanting a piece of sound bite from her.

The next morning, a beaming Saina greeted me from the front pages of the day’s newspaper. I checked my inbox and there, true to her dad’s words, sat a mail from Saina with her response which left me beaming in turn. Her infectious smile apart, perhaps it is this grounded attitude and humility that is most endearing about her.

Following is the excerpts from an exclusive interview with Saina Nehwal.

YS: You follow a tough training schedule. What is it like?

Saina: At present I have two sessions. The first is in the morning from 7 am to 12.30 pm. I come back home for lunch and some rest. My evening session is from 4 pm to 6.30 pm. It is quite hectic but satisfying.

YS: You have turned a number of runner-up finishes into victories? How can one achieve this?

Saina: This is the outcome of my hard work under the watchful eyes of my coach, Mr Pullela Gopichand.

YS: What is your winning mantra?

Saina: It is hard work and God’s grace on me. I believe there is no alternative to hard work. Not just in sports but in all facets of life.

YS: How do you deal with setbacks? And what is your advice to young entrepreneurs about dealing with setbacks?

Saina: Setbacks are a part of life, you cannot wish them away. I think you have to deal with them so that you can come back stronger.

YS: How do you keep your focus despite setbacks?

Saina: I have chosen to play badminton as a professional. It is what I wanted to do. Therefore, if I have to sustain and succeed in my chosen career I have to keep my focus. Acknowledging this fact helps me do that.

YS: How do you handle success and not let it get the better of you?

Saina: I do not keep a count of how many titles I have bagged. I always try to win the encounter.

YS: A lot of sports persons have started entrepreneurial ventures like opening sports academy, restaurants and so on. Do you have any entrepreneurial ambitions?

Saina: No. I just want to play my game. Later, I would like to motivate younger players.

YS: You have always spoken highly of your coach and mentor Mr Gopichand. How important is the role of a mentor?

Saina: It is very, very important. I was just an ordinary person, he made me the badminton player I am today.

YS: What goes on in your head when confronting an opponent?

Saina: Only one thought: To win.

YS: Which is more difficult, the journey to the top or to have the staying power to remain at the top?

Saina: The power to remain at the top.

YS: How and from whom do you draw inspiration?

Saina: These are sportspeople who are a few years older to me like Sachin Sir and Roger Federer.

There are a lot of take-aways for an entrepreneur from the lifestyle and journey of a sportsperson such as Saina Nehwal! We wish the ace shuttler all the best for her ongoing tournament, and stay tuned for more stories from Celebrity Rapid Fire.

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