India’s veteran shuttler Saina Nehwal has blown hot and cold in the past few months. The 32-year-old has missed tournaments with injuries, has faced stunning losses, and failed to go deep in the 2022 BWF World Tour tournaments. These shallow performances from Nehwal cost her place in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games squad. However, the 32-year-old has made it to the quarterfinals of the ongoing Singapore Open.
Nehwal beat fifth-seed Chinese shuttler He Bing Jiao in the second round of the tournament to make it to the last-eight stage. And as soon as Nehwal ousted a better-paced Bing Jiao, the murmurs of her missing the flight to England surfaced. Nehwal’s husband P Kashyap was the first one to react as he slammed the Badminton Association of India (BAI) for not treating Nehwal properly.
Kashyap cleared that it’s not that Saina is desperate to play at the Games as she has already won two gold medals from the 2010 and 2018 editions. “It’s about the amount of disrespect shown to a player. It’s about your own people treating you like s***,” explained fellow CWG gold medallist (2014), coach, and husband, Parupalli Kashyap.
It’s worth noting that selection trials for the Games were announced at a time when Nehwal was still nursing injuries. The BAI cited her “aloof, stand-offish behavior” during a past Uber Cup campaign as the reason to show her the door. However, Kashyap believes it was the loss to Malika Bansod at the Indian Open earlier this year when the officials got a stick.
Kashyap also revealed how this treatment from BAI resulted in multiple breakdowns for Saina. “She’s been in tears often, and the issue of non-selection crops up in conversations every second day when she speaks. It’s very very tough to even practice, and you are not sure, mentally, whether you are preparing to fight your own people or opponents. Your intentions in the match go all wrong in such times, and it’s a terrible mind space,” he said.