Electric Saina Nehwal, Beijing Olympics 2008

Exhibition of Power and Balance on a Badminton Court.

Indian Badminton sensation Saina Nehwal lost in the quarter finals of the Beijing Olympics to Maria Yulianti of Indonesia. It was high quality badminton and looked like a classic rivalry of Saina’s power shots vs Maria’s simplicity of balance. Saina had her chances as she led 11-4 in the final set (earlier in the first game she was 20-16 up, and won after toiling hard at 28-26, which could perhaps have drained her batteries a bit).

Yet folks, she has done our nation proud, getting into the quarter-finals at an age when most of us are yearning for a driver’s license- is very big indeed. Also big is the fact that her parents drove 20km every day on a scooter for training when she would fall asleep on the back seat due to hard hours of training.

But this match brought out the beauty of the game of badminton. This is a sport where there is still a balance of attack and defence- unlike other modern day sports such as table tennis and even tennis, where momentum of the ball escalates with each touch and winning or losing points is matter of going with the flow.

You react in table tennis, but in badminton you respond.

Why is badminton this way? Perhaps in my next book or another blog…

But for now, be assured there are enough megawatts in Saina to be an international powerhouse. All she needs is a few more switches to regulate the flow- to ensure players like Yulianti do not use it against herself. But well played Yulianti, she deserves her bronze.

Saumil
Mumbai
14 August 2008

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