On Sunday, vindication of all the hard work put in since she came back from knee surgery in late 2016 came in the form of a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, which made Saina the first Indian badminton player to win two singles golds at the CWG. Up against compatriot PV Sindhu, the World No 3, in the women’s singles gold medal match on Sunday, Saina prevailed 21-18, 23-21 in a riveting performance highlighted by an aggressive approach that she never backed down from. With this win Saina, ranked 12th in the world, took her overall head-to-head record against Sindhu to 4-1.
“I faced criticism, but that’s what has helped me to work on the area where I felt and Gopi sir felt and Christopher Pedra, our physio, felt I needed to improve on. And that’s what matters - to improve and make yourself fit and I am happy to have won the Commonwealth Games gold because it’s a prestigious tournament and everyone wants to win it for the country,” said the 28-year-old.
Saina said she was extremely pleased with her performance and revealed that channeling criticism into improving her fitness was the biggest gain. During a successful, injury-free 2017, the 2012 London Olympics medalist won a Grand Prix Gold, a bronze at the World Championships and her third national National Badminton Championship title with a 21-17, 27-25 victory over Sindhu. Next up for Saina and India’s top shuttlers is the Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan, China from April 24-29.