Saina mania takes over
By N Jagannath Das / ENS - HYDERABAD
08th August 2012 08:19 AM
Shamshabad airport reverberated with slogans like Jaya Ho as Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal arrived from London on Tuesday morning. Hundreds pushed and shoved and surged forward to catch a glimpse of the badminton star and danced along the way in front of a bus decked up to take her from the airport to Gachibowli.
Saina, who showed no signs of jetlag, was all smiles. She had every reason to be, and the best part was that the reception was overwhelming. “I have done it,” she exclaimed as she emerged out of the airport. Her father Harvir Singh was the first to greet her. Proudly displaying her medal, she made her way to the bus along with her father, coach Pullela Gopichand and fellow badminton player Parupalli Kashyap. The mood was so infectious that Gopichand too couldn’t resist shaking his legs amidst drum beats and Saina Zindabad slogans.
Taking breaks in-between to give a few soundbytes for the media, Gopichand said, “I am very happy that our efforts have paid off.” As it so often happens when emotions take over, a number of Saina fans too got into the bus fuelling fears that it might turn turtle any moment!
Policemen running on both sides of the road and those in the pilot car in front decided that it was too dangerous to go along and persuaded the star and her family and friends to disembark and take a car. Saina and Gopichand, on their way to the badminton academy in Gachibowli, stopped for a brief while at Towlichowki to meet the latter’s father Subhash Chandra, who works as a general manager in a motor company. Later, the eight-car convoy proceeded to Gachibowli where, Gopi’s students persuaded the duo to step out of the car and get into a chariot! There were fireworks too. The atmosphere at the academy resembled Diwali with students setting off firecrackers. For young trainees, who have come from as far as Delhi and Indore to train here, it was a great experience. “It is worth going to the airport to receive Saina. She has been an inspiration to all of us. I’m proud today that I’m training where Saina practises everyday,’’ said a trainee.
Giving a pep talk to the trainees, Saina attributed her success to the academy. “I’m glad of what I said before leaving for London Olympics. I dreamt of a medal ever since I started playing as my mom insisted that I dream of an Olympic medal. Today I am a champion. The first person I should thank is Gopi sir and of course, my dad, without whom it is nothing for me,’’ she said.
A calm and emotional Harvir Singh said he was honoured to sit on the dais alongside Gopichand and Saina. “I don’t deserve it,’’ he quipped. But Saina intervened with a heart-warming remark. “This medal is yours.” Harvir, the humble man that he is, remembered Saina’s first gurus as he called them. The late Nani Prasad and SM Arif, Saina’s coaches who had first groomed her.
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