Saina Nehwal is standing atop badminton's Mount Everest as world no 1 women's player, taking great gulps of oxygen. She summitted when Carolina Marin of Spain lost her India Open semifinal at the Siri Fort over the weekend.
Saina has become a sporting immortal, going where no Indian woman has gone before. Naturally, the twenty-something player simply said, when she reached No 1, "Oh my god."
At a time when India is still putting salve to some wounds after the cricket team's semi-final loss to Australia, Saina's feat brings with it sunshine and cheer. Of course, cricket and badminton are two different sports and accomplishments in either are different and have little parallel, considering so many more nations play badminton. Yet, when this feat has come so close to the World Cup, references are natural.
Let us now ensure that Saina's journey in the sport is smooth now. Let India do all it can to help the champion, when it comes to rewards and recognition. One must ensure that ministers actually deliver when they promise rewards for accomplishments. Let Saina's case not be like other Indian athletes, who only 'hear' or read about authorities announcing all kinds of cash awards for accomplishments, but never actually get to see them.
While taking huge pride in her accomplishments, people can do their bit by showing how incredible she is, on social media. You can show you care in that own little way. When she is playing in your city, do take time out to watch
a game. How many times will you see a World No 1 on your home soil? So, just do a trifle to show Saina that she inspires you, through her sweat and blood, to be the best you can be in your own way. Schools, especially girls' schools, can have Saina as an icon, a hero worthy of emulation and, of course, an idol whose never-say-die spirit one can adopt in student life. Humble and dedicated, Saina has proved one need not be a flashy, in-your-face athlete to be No 1. She is an abode to the old fashioned virtue of hard work. The greatness of this badminton player lies in her resilience and grit. Let us all look for the Saina in us.