Hyderabad, Dec 6: Champions not only dream big but also set themselves deadlines to realise their dreams. Badminton ace Saina Nehwal did just that.)
Breaking into the world's top ten was Saina Nehwal's longtime dream, and she gave herself till the end of 2008 to reach there. On Thursday, the teenage sensation achieved both with a measure of comfort. With four weeks still left in 2008, Saina made the No 10 spot her own on the latest Badminton World Federation rankings.
So when she walked into the P Gopichand Badminton Academy in the evening, she was greeted like a superstar. The trainees, coaches, friends and well wishers broke into an instantaneous applause. Receiving the accolades shyly and thanking everyone demurely, the girl got down to business straightaway. She tightened her shoe laces and began to warm up even before the din around her had died down completely.
"Celebrations can wait, but going through the regular grind is the most important thing for a player," she said.
Not that Saina did not savour the moment. But, as is her wont, she just would not let her emotions get the better of her, more so in public. Be it in victory, defeat, joy or disappointment, Saina would just be the same.
Speaking to TOI later, Saina admitted that she was thrilled when her father called her up around noon to announce her latest accomplishment. "I felt I was on top of the world when papa called." Saina is the first Indian woman to achieve this feat in the era of new world rankings.
Gopichand was obviously very excited. "I always believed that Indian players are extremely talented but are not being offered good coaching. When I took over as coach, my aim was to see a few Indian names in the top ten list. Saina started this process and I am confident that a few more will reach there soon," Gopi said.