Sunday, June 22, 2008

Biography

What does it take to make a badminton star like Saina Nehwal? Ask her father Harvir Singh.

If Saina battles it out on the badminton court against the world’s best players, it has been no less a battle for her father to let her do the same.

Rarely a middle-class family can think of spending half of the monthly income on an eight-year-old child’s training without knowing if the gamble would pay off.

But Harvir Singh, a Scientist with the Directorate of Oilseeds Research Hyderabad, opted to go by the advice of PSS Nani Prasad Rao, the then badminton coach of the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP), who saw immense potential in the girl.

“I met Nani Prasad Rao in December, 1998, at Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad. Saina was standing with a badminton racket on the court and he asked her to play. After watching her game, he said,‘She has the potential and if you want to train her, bring her to me as a summer trainee,” Harvir said.

The tough journey had started. Saina had to be taken to the stadium every day early in the morning and the distance from the house was 20 km.

“It was a challenge for both of us because I had to wake up early so that we could reach the stadium by 6 am. The training session used to last for about two hours.

After attending the training session, Saina had to attend school. This way I had to drive my scooter around 50 km daily as Saina, apart from attending rigorous practice sessions, had to concentrate on studies,” her father explained.

The impact of this tough routine began to show in the first week as Saina would often fall asleep on the back seat.

Sensing the danger, Saina’s mother started accompanying them on the two-wheeler. This continued for three months.

Ultimately, the family had to arrange a house near the stadium in 1999. This time the distance was about 7 km from the stadium.

But the travelling ordeal did not end here as Saina was asked to attend evening training sessions as well.

“With an extra training session, the travelling expenditure rose to Rs 150 per day. Added to this was the cost of training. Shuttles, racket, shoes, guttings and what not had to be purchased regularly. I spent around Rs 12,000 every month to keep her going those days,” Harvir said.

But how did the family manage such high-cost training? Saina’s father revealed that he had to sacrifice his savings.

“I started withdrawing money from my provident fund. Sometimes it was Rs 30,000 and other times it was nearly Rs 1 lakh. It happened more than five times when I had to shell out money from my PF savings due to Saina’s various requirements,” said Harvir.

He stated that the tight-rope walk continued till 2002 until Yonex Sunrise sports offered to sponsor Saina’s kit.

“It came as a big relief. Fortunately, she got BPCL support late in 2004. Ultimately, she was spotted by Mittal Sports Trust in December, 2005.

“But I had never disclosed to Saina my financial difficulties fearing that she might get disturbed knowing that her father was left with no savings for the future,” he said.

When asked if they got any help from the sports authorities, the answer said it all.

“Till 2003, she was getting Rs 600 per month from the Sports Authority of India (SAI). It was raised to Rs 2,500 in June, 2003. You can understand how I could have managed,” Harvir said.

Apart from the training cost, hefty telephone bills put extra financial burden on the family when Saina started touring foreign countries for events.

The byte-crazy media played a part too. Wherever she went, be it the Philippines or South Korea, her phone kept ringing.

“A major part of the prize money that Saina got from big competitions like the Philippines Open and World Junior Championship was utilised in paying her mobile bills, which were between Rs 40,000 and Rs 50,000 in the touring months,” he said.

But was the prize money enough when she began her career? “Saina was given just Rs 300 as prize money after winning the under-10 state level competition, held in Tirupati in 1999. The period between 1999-2004 was very trying for the family as we did not get any sponsor for her,” Harvir said.

It was not only the financial burden but the risk of lagging behind on the educational front which added to the pressure.

Saina had to skip examinations twice. She did not take her first year intermediate exams because of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and later in May, she could not write supplementary exams as she was in the Philippines.

At present she is studying in the second year at Saint Ann’s College, Mehdipatnam Hyderabad. Ironically, the family, despite her big success at the international level, has not been able to celebrate much.

“She has never been to any party, any restaurant or cinema in the past seven years. When the electronic media personnel visited my home in May last year for shooting of a programme, I could not even offer them sweets. Do I need to explain why,” he sed.

35 comments:

avi remo said...

I HOPE SHE WILL COME VERY HIGH AS HER DADS HOPE . SHE LOOK VERY DETERMINED AND POLITE TOWARDS HER SPORT . I WISH HER AND HER FAMILY GOOD LUCK FOR FUTURE. THIS FINANCIAL PROBLEM IS IN EVERY MIDDLE CLASS HOME . I AM STUDYING ENGINEERING IN MYSORE I TOO HAVE TO SAVE MONEY FOR MY ROOM RENT ETC . BEST OF LUCK FOR FUTURE SAINA KEEP YOUR THOUGHTS HIGH.

golu said...

I too want to be a badminton player,the best but i lived in village till 15 years of age then till till 17 i passed my 12 with iit coaching in kota, now i 've a dream of becoming champion in badminton but as i am a single parent child so i am not financially strong and my mom has paid a lot of her savings in coaching for IIT so she wants me to join engineering but i 've interest in badminton so i am trying to do badminton coaching thrice a week with engineering.....
as i 've grown 17 so no one supports my decision but still i am trying hard and if god favours i would be best in badminton just in one to two year...
more or less my situation is more vulnerable then sania's all the best to her and family, work hard sania you will definetly reach at your aim and lots of thanks to your parents who have supported you a lot, may god give everybody parrents like of yours and child like you...
regards-shubhankar
shubh_creative@yahoo.com

SHOWKAT said...

I AM LOOKING Saina Nehwal FOR LAST A FEW YEARS SHE IS VERY DEDICATED AND HARD WORKING GIRL WE WIL SEE HER BEST PERFORMENCES VERY SOON My comment about Saina Nehwal is that you are best than Sania Mirza best of luck for your future

Melwin said...

IN INDIA IF U WANT TO BECOME A SPORTS STAR IT IS VERY DIFFICULT BCOZ INDIA'S MAJORITY OF POPULATION IS MIDDLE CLASS AND EVERYONE JUST WANT TO FINISH STUDIES AND ENTER JOB TO FINANCIALLY SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES.LIKE SAINA HOW SHE HAD TO COP UP WITH STUDIES AS WELL AS THE SPORT SHE LOVED THE MOST.EVEN I WANTED TO BECOME A CRICKET PLAYER BUT BCOZ OF STUDIES AND FEAR OF SUCESS IN INDIA.I HAD TO OPT OUT.I WISH SAINA ALL THE BEST FOR FUTURE AND HOPE SHE CONTINUES TO MAKE INDIA PROUD..

vinsup said...

It took me a few moments of silence before i could comment.
It really is touching. At a real young age to go through so much....
is so unbelievable
but saina must say u have the best parents anybody would ever have
& for them, they have the best daughter in u.
True, in life there r 2 ways of getting anything
1.easier & 2.harder
While the former is satisfactory it is limited & temporary
the latter is unlimited & permanent.
So stay dedicated &overtake success.Don't let fame & success overtake u(which i know will never happen with u).best of luck.

Chimu said...

There is a solution to this problem. Whenever a talented boy/girl is spotted by a good coach of a reputed Sports Academy, he should have the authority to communicate this to the Sports Authority of that State and the Sports Authority should have funds given by the Government to sponsor such talented children. At least 3-4 top performing boys/girls from each reputed Sports Academy should be nominated and sponsored by the Government. And the funds should not be for name-sake like how Saina got just Rs600/- per month initially. It should be sufficient enough. Only then will India come up in other sports than cricket.

Indian said...

Wishing Saina all the best in 2010.... Hope and wish this year brings in more wins for her.....

We all are proud of you!

Saina Nehwal Fan

prashant said...

I WAS REALLY HAVING A GREAT SPARK FOR PLAYING BADMINTON BUT MY PARENTS WERE NOT MUCH SUPPORTIVE LIKE YOU,REALLY YOU HAVE SACRIFICED A LOT FOR YOUR DAUGHTER ,BUT SHE HAS ALSO PROVED HERSELF,I HOPE THAT SHE WILL RISE A LOT IN THIS FIELD AND MAKE YOU AND COUNTRY PROUD ON HER ACHIEVEMENTS.

Yash said...

wishing her best of luck for her future.

Nessan
Raise your voice

navaneeth said...

Tears in my eyes,as i read your biography.Saina you are my inspiration. Definitely one day i will be like you.On that day i will meet you.My best wishes for you.

sunil kumar said...

Hello Saina. First of all congratulations for winning 3 tournaments in a row. But I would like to appreciate your parents before I appreciate you. Harvir Sir, you are the best. Every child expects a dad like you. Yes I can understand how you might have struggled when saina was lack of sponsorship, b'coz my father also struggled a lot with a salary of just Rs.4000/- per month to make me a Engineer. Now I am working for a world reputed Car Manufacturing company. I closely observed my father's struggle. Though Saina has won hattrick tournaments, ultimately it's your win. Sir, We are proud of you more than Saina. Congratulations to you and Saina once again.

kanimozhi said...

My Saina... im kani... u r my roll model.. im proud to be an indian as u r belonging to our country... congradulations to winning all series .. u will win the olymbics confirmly.. my best wishes

ARYAN said...

congrats to saina and to her family.....i too wanted to be a cricketer but belonging to a middle class family has its own ordeals...had to go for engineering so as to ge a job and be financially independent...whenevr i read about other sportsperson i feel even i could have been there had i got a chance to go for it....but this could not be posssible ..amd it really pains...but anyways life is never fair...hope more individuals bring laurel to india.

deven said...

she has made it to this level because of her dedication

the world knows her today but who knows the sacrifices of the family

no monument can be constructed without the strong foundation it was the family who must have supported her in all possible ways

no body consider the sacrifice of foundation which is not even visible but every one appreciates the visible monument

BISHNUPRIYA said...

saina is a very good badminton player.......
keep it up
ur and ur dad's hopes too...........

kaustubh said...

sainas success story is very inspiring ... listened to sainas interview on tv n felt of searching text of her on net ....i m relly inspired by her... u hav set a gud example for youngsters

santosh said...

HII, SAINA U R MY FAVORITE BADMINTON PLAYER , AND I LIKE U R PLAING MANNER , I HAVE SEEN U R QUATERFINAL MATCH IN C.W.G 2010 WITH ANNARICE , IT WAS FABOULAS MATCH . I WISH U GET MORE SUCESS IN U R LIFE,,,,,,, SANTOSH AND ANISH(ROORKEE) UTTRAKHAND

A.P.Singh said...

SAINA - the golden girl of india , thw winner of badminton in CWG2010 delhi stables india on No. 2 Im medal tally........HIpHIp HURRAYYYYYYY...........

shalini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
simran said...

i am very proud of u SAINA NEHWAL and S. HARBIR SINGH

deepu.hanu said...

Hello Saina.......congrts to u and ur dedicated family on ur grand success. Ur parents has kept faith on u and u always proved them right.For most of successful persons, struggle is the frist thing they encounter.So much of talent still lives in our poor villages.......but due to poor financial condition and proper guidence, their dreams remains only dreams....Best of luck for ur future

Deepak Budania, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi

Anantha said...

It was immense pleasure to see the player like Saina Nehwal for India.
She is a Great Player and Nice human being.
I really impressed with his Fathers determination and sincerity towards Saina career and she proves that his coach is right in finding her talent at initial days.
I Wish Saina and her family a very Great Future further and keep going....

Thanks
Ananth

vartika said...

saina u r great ,NO ! is like u
i am very touched by ur story..
wish u a great sucess in ur life..!!!

vartika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Purvi said...

you are a greatperson .
well i am only 11 years old but still
i am a big fan of u .
all the best in your life and achieve nice medalslike this only.
i want to become an entrepreneur.

shalima said...

siana u r da glory of our nation ..shalima

shalima said...

siana u r da glory of our nation ..shalima

VIKRAM GOEL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanjana said...

i m proud of u tht u r a indian grl n u r so smart

tuku's said...

saina is really a star of india who is twinkling now and for ever. she is a very good badminton player. India and we the indians feel proud of her.

Thank you saina for bringing successes for india.

Best of luck.

manisha bhardvaz said...

u r my fvrt, i thnk u r fvrt of all indians..........
god bless u dear......

captain k c b dayan said...

real citizen of our country who will stand like zibralter in future captain k c b dayan

Shibin said...

Saina...Achieve heights never reached before..We Indians are with you...

vinit Agarwal said...

Cool Player with cool guts...GOLDEN GIRL OF INDIA...

Naveenraj Xavier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.