Who was the first to land on the moon? Neil Armstrong! Who is the second?
Buzz Aldrin would repent for his life that being second is as poor as never being there.
India’s badminton queen Saina Nehwal must be living with a similar feeling ever since her unceremonious exit from the Rio Olympic games. The emotion becomes more agonising for the ones who slide after being on the top.
The lesser mortals give up easily. The champions return with a stronger resolve, which Saina has put on display at the BWF World Championships at Glasgow, Scotland. “Saina is motivated and playing much better,” says coach U Vimal Kumar.
The first Olympic medallist from India will not be gunning for another win. She has many a memories to erase. Many scores to settle. Collectively with PV Sindhu, Saina has already etched another first for Indian badminton – Glasgow is the first occasion for two Indian players to reach the semi-finals in 50 years ever since BWF World Championships have started in 1977.
But that is no consolation for Saina, who has been enduring a lot on the court and commercial front – from two consecutive defeats at the hands of Sindhu to abject apathy in the brand market.
In the past one year, since return from Rio – Sindhu has been making a fortune off the court. She has emerged as the best female brand icon in the country, is second sportsperson behind Virat Kohli in brand endorsements, has earned laurels, a Deputy Collector’s job with her State Government and much more.
All this while Saina has struggled to emerge from the injury and surgery to regain the form she has put on display at Glasgow. The former World No. 1 has endured the psychological pain of being the No. 2 in her own country. No champion loves till the time of a final goodbye to the sport. Nor will Saina.
Now, as India will be gunning for a Saina-Sindhu final, the veteran shuttler will be eyeing that coveted win to restore her prestige and open gates of opportunities which seem to be almost slammed shut on her.