Saina Nehwal lost her chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as BWF canceled qualifiers due to the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Former India badminton coach Vimal Kumar is of the belief that Saina Nehwal will have to face a long and arduous road to maintain her playing standards and prolong her badminton career. Kumar said that the Olympic bronze medalist will have to target specific tournaments in order to prolong her playing career. Nehwal lost her chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics due to the raging coronavirus pandemic. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) had canceled the last three Olympic qualifiers due to the pandemic, which ultimately proved to be the end of the road for several players.
“She came into the limelight in 2005-06 and has been a big trendsetter after Prakash Padukone. She has been consistent, played for many years and it is sad that she couldn’t qualify this year. I guess she has been a bit unlucky in the last two Games,” Vimal said. It was Vimal who had guided Nehwal to the world number 1 ranking and said that she could still provide her services to the game for a few more years.
“She can continue for few years but it is going to be tough. She has to plan things better, target specific tournaments, and work towards it,” he said. “With her experience, she can still beat the best players but she shouldn’t look at ranking because it will be difficult to play the circuit and also stay injury-free.”
Speaking about whether the 31-year-old shuttler could target the next Olympics, Kumar said that it was going to be a difficult road and that Nehwal should not have The Games as her priority.
“It is very difficult. She has been getting injured consistently. I don’t know, it is a tough task and, to be honest, Olympics shouldn’t be the priority anymore,” he said.
“Her performance has seen a steady decline since January 2019 when she won the Indonesia final after Carolina Marin got injured. After that, she has not done anything remarkable. Of course, it was all COVID for most parts,” he added.
Vimal said that although she is still better than most of the young players, it will be the youngsters who will have the focus. He also said that she would have to play the circuit at her own expense if she has the hunger.
“She is still better than the rest of the young players but now the focus will be on youngsters. She will have to manage, look to play the circuit on own expense if she still has that willingness and hunger,” Vimal said.