London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal on Monday became the first Indian woman to win an Asian Games medal in the women’s singles in badminton. Though she put up a tough fight in the semi-final against Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, she lost (17-21, 14-21), settling for a bronze.

With this, Saina ended India’s 36-year drought for winning a medal in the individual singles event at the continental tournament. Last time an Indian brought glory in a singles medal at the Asian Games was Syed Modi in men’s singles at the 1982 Games.

Speaking to the media after the match, Saina said about her opponent: “She was playing strong and I knew she will challenge me today. I was taking her seriously, she had beaten Sung Ji Hyun in the previous match and first time I saw her playing well against a rally player.”

“I was not moving that well initially, but after 12-3, I opened up and I started picking up those tough shots. Then one-two rallies happened and there I saw her getting tired but she was very tough. She was playing attacking. She had the lead, I had the good record against her, crowd was shouting (for Indonesian player on adjacent court), so many things were playing in my mind. You could not hear the shuttle (due to noise), you have to be alert.”

Saina, however, would be frustrated because she again she lost against the World No 1, who has beaten her 10 times now.

Earlier, Saina had stormed into semis with 21-18, 21-16 win over World No. 4 Ratchanok Intanon. It was right then that she assured the country of a medal, marking it as a historic occasion.

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Though she is no longer in the top 10 BWF Rankings, Saina’s overall performance in recent times has been improving after her knee surgery.

Continuing her winning streak from the Commonwealth Games, Saina Nehwal shone again at the Badminton Asia Championship in April when she won a bronze in the women’s singles semifinals. This is for the third time that Saina has ensured a bronze medal for India at the Asian tournament. She had clinched her second gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year. Her past achievements include an individual gold in the 2010 CWG in New Delhi and mixed team silver and bronze in 2010 and 2006 respectively. Saina also received the Youth Icon award at the inaugural TOISA in 2015.

Let’s hear a loud cheer for Saina!

Picture Credit: Indianexpress.com

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