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Learn English with Saina Nehwal. Join Saina Nehwal as she shares her thoughts on staying motivated during the pandemic, her views on retirement, and why playing in Europe suits her so well. At 31, Saina reflects on her fitness journey and expresses her hopes for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Discover the inspiring story of one of India’s greatest badminton players.

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Saina Nehwal: Once you are satisfied with your goal, it’s the real happiness.

Once you are satisfied with your goal, it’s the real happiness.

Saina Nehwal


Saina Nehwal: I can understand the situation out there, but, you know, when I was seeing the tennis tournaments happening, you know, I was wondering how come, you know, badminton is not starting. We just also feel some kind of demotivation sometimes, but somehow the game has always kept us a little bit happy and motivated. The friends, the atmosphere, everyone was like, we have to train, and we never know when the tournaments will start. But I’m very happy Denmark could do it. They’re starting the tournament with the Thomas Yberg Cup and Denmark Open. I’m very, very happy, actually, at the same time. Yes, vaccine, everyone is taking the vaccine, so it’s very satisfying again, yeah.

Reporter: Saina, what is it that keeps you motivated? You said that the world has been suffering from the Covid pandemic, but what keeps you motivated to practice without knowing, okay, when can I actually go back to play tournaments?

Saina Nehwal: I think it’s about the atmosphere. As I said, my husband, my parents, my upbringing from childhood. It’s always been like a I’m a sporty person, you know. I always like to play some kind of sport, and when God has given me this opportunity to be a professional player, then why not just stick to the game which I like and which I’ve been doing well also in? And that’s what sometimes I feel, you know, it’s getting a little tough because everyone is suffering. Then why should I even go and give my 100%? But at the same time, you know, I feel this is what, it’s my job, it’s my work, you know.

Everyone is out there working, keeping their mind off these things, and they just want to be happy after, you know, doing their work. So, you know, I have to do the same thing, and I think that’s what has kept me away from all the negative, you know, news and tough times that everyone is facing. But, yeah, all thanks to the game, I think the game has really helped me to stay in shape, stay healthy, at least, you know. Otherwise, I’ve seen many people putting on so much weight and not able to, you know, get that motivation on.

Reporter: It’s never polite to talk about the age of a woman, of course, but you turned 31 now. What are the retirement thoughts at the moment? Because players, when they turn 30, normally they start to think about, okay, what about the life after? For a lot of female players, also about starting a family with kids and so on. What are your thoughts?

Saina Nehwal: I feel, you know, when I’m earning so much with the game, why should I just give it up, you know, like that? What will I do even after retiring? I know it’s you’ll have a family and you’ll have kids, but why can’t you have it at 36, 37, you know? And nowadays, everything is okay in India. You follow the Bollywood stars, everyone is enjoying their lives, so it’s the same. I feel like, why not continue the sport which I like, and when I am getting so much fame with it, so much money with it? And without it, I’ll be just sitting at home watching TV or watching maybe some kind of serial. But I think this is what I enjoy, and until I can do it, I think I should try it.

Because when you see Roger Federer or Djokovic, or I think they also feel that, why should we even play after achieving so much or after, you know, he’s 40, I think, Roger Federer. So, but he says, I love the game, you know, it’s keeping me happy. So, until I’m happy with the sport, I’ll continue it. So it’s the same with me. When I’ll feel it’s enough, my body is not helping me, and the injuries are not, you know, I’m not able to control them, then I think it’s the time. But at the moment, I think I’m just enjoying the trips, I’m enjoying coming out, seeing the matches, and if at all I win something now, it will be great for me.

Reporter: Let’s be honest, Saina, is it harder to get out of bed at 31 compared to 23, for instance?

Saina Nehwal: I think 23 was tougher. At the moment, the way I’m training and the way I’m actually looking after myself, I feel much better. You know, my body feels very, very good. It’s the way you train that is important. I think at 23, the training which I took and which I was doing was not so good. I used to get up with back pains, with a lot of leg irritations. But at the moment, I just feel I can get up and go on the court and play. So the feeling is so good at the moment, so that’s why I just told you the first thing was that I’m feeling good, and that’s what is important for players.

Reporter: One of the things that always pops into my head when I see you play and also see you enter the European tournaments is that you actually always do pretty good when you play in Europe. Denmark Open, good result. World Championships in Europe, good result. Olympics, good result. Why does Europe fit you so well?

Saina Nehwal: I never thought about it. It’s a nice thing, but I feel… I don’t know, I’m just good here. And I’m also good in Indonesia as well, you know, so I’ve got many victories over there. But I don’t know, actually, you know, I didn’t really think about it. But it’s a very nice thing you have told me about, and I’m very happy that, yes, most of the big wins are in Europe, and I hope I could continue them in the next two tournaments. But I don’t know what suits me, maybe the shuttles, maybe the atmosphere, maybe the courts. You know, sometimes the atmosphere and the shuttles and the conditions help you to really adjust very well. So I think that’s what happened. And Denmark has always been this, basically they’re all the same halls.

We never got changed anywhere. So I think that’s why from the start, I think I really like the Denmark Open Hall and the French Open Hall. You know, they’re very big and there’s no air conditioning, it’s very easy to play, and there’s not a lot of drift or anything like that. So I think maybe that is the condition. But then, when I think why I play well in Indonesia, when there is so much drift, so, you know, you never know. Sometimes, you know, players just, you can’t, they can’t even say why they’re good in one particular place. But I think the fitter I am, the better I am, and I can retrieve more shuttles, then it’s much better for me to perform. So, whenever you have told me that I did well in Denmark Open, and I was always in my fittest, you know, shape, and that’s why I think I did pretty well in Denmark 2012, 2018, then French Open 2012, and then after that, 2017 or 2018 again, I did well over there. So, whenever I am in good condition, good shape, naturally the results will come. But yes, if the shuttles are really fast and I can’t control it, like sometimes in Malaysia Open, then maybe, you know, I can’t say that. But finally, it depends on the fitness, I would say. The fitter you are, if you take the example of Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, the fitter you are, you’re better everywhere, yeah.

Reporter: Yeah, out here, the stars are blinking, saying Paris 2024. Yes, is that also a star blinking for you?

Saina Nehwal: I am just, you know, still I have not overcome this time Olympics because seven tournaments got canceled. You know, we still were like, what is this? Maybe one tournament I would have got, then I was just like one tournament away. Like I just needed one quarterfinal and seven tournaments got canceled. I still can’t believe the tournament also happened and it’s gone. You know, obviously, I don’t know what will happen in 24, but I can definitely say I feel good. I would like to try for that, and why not when, you know, if everything falls in place, I am sure I can, I can do that.