CWG gold is right next to my Olympic bronze: Saina
(Sourced from PTI)
An exhausted mind, a bruised body and an unsavory controversy, Saina Nehwal had to contend with quite a bit ahead of and during the Commonwealth Games. Saina said she termed it as next to her Olympic medal and her world No. 1 ranking. "It's a very emotional moment for me after the disappointing loss in Rio due to injury," second seed Saina said.
Saina played all the matches in the mixed team championship before competing in the individual event. Saina had a 3-1 head-to-head lead over Sindhu going into today's match and she ensured that the gap widened with a vintage performance.
"It was a neck to neck game for me, it was even tougher because I have been playing for last 10-12 days," Saina said. "Sindhu is tall, she has longer legs and covers the court better than me, I have to run here and there. I lost 5kg in the last few months, that helps me in moving faster," she added.
It was a perfect end to what was an imperfect start when her accredited father did not gain access to the Games village. She threatened to pull out if he wasn't accommodated, which he eventually was, but she drew criticism for her stand.
Asked if playing against Sindhu in a big final like today was more of a mental battle than anything else, Saina kept it simple. "You just have to play your game, it's a healthy rivalry. No doubt we are under tremendous pressure. But I am happy to be pulling these off. It's not easy to play against World No. 3," she said.
"It's a challenging match. I would like to thank Gopi sir for pushing me in the last three-four months and Christopher, my physio, who is working hard on my body," Saina said. "I was facing a lot of injuries on my shin, ankle and he came up and gave me a very good rehab program which is helping my leg strength," she said.
Even though Saina claimed the gold with a brilliant performance, she said she was not in a particularly good shape. "The rallies were going long, she was picking up all shots well. I am happy that I could pull off the bigger rallies. I have never played two weeks back to back so definitely it is one of my most exhausting campaigns," she said.
It was yet another final loss for Sindhu, who is now being criticized for not being able to pull off high-pressure games. However, Saina defended her teammate. "It happens in tough situations, it has happened with me as well. Today, I fought well. I didn't attack much because my stamina was finishing. She was doing very well in rallies too," she said.