Olympic Bronze medallist Saina Nehwal who has been the flagbearer of badminton in India for many years will not feature in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics after several tournaments got cancelled due to the pandemic. Nehwal who was running against time to qualify for the Summer Games fell short after several events were called off.
However, her former coach U Vimal Kumar feels that the ace shuttler should manage her workload for continuing to play at the top level. He wants her to take care of her health and body which will help her generate better results.
Vimal Kumar who is a former national champion and Olympian told PTI “She can continue for a few years. She has to plan things better, target specific tournaments and work towards it.”
“With her experience, she can still beat the best players but she shouldn’t look at the ranking because it will be difficult to play the circuit and also stay injury-free.”
Injuries have been the main concern for the 31-year-old shuttler. She won the Indonesia Open in 2019 as her last title and since then injuries have haunted her throughout.
While she is ranked 22nd in the World she failed to make the cut for the Olympics. Her qualification was dependent on the India Open, Malaysia Open and Singapore Open and all of them were called off due to the pandemic. All three events handed players with qualifications as only the top 16 ranked shuttlers qualify for the mega event.
Injury has always been a major woe for the ace shuttler as she even got injured at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was down with a knee injury but later came back like a warrior to clinch Gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Just like that situation, Vimal Kumar is also not ruling out a comeback for the 31-year-old. He feels that her determination is key in this rough phase that she is going through.
“No major changes can be made at this stage. She has to take care of her body. Sports is tough, it’s difficult for the body to take that sort of intensity,” Vimal explained how it is too late to make changes to her natural game.
“If she can do all that, she can continue to play for a couple of years at least, and that will be good for other Indian players as well,” he concluded.