Badminton: Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal fears early end to career

Saina is eyeing a return to court at the upcoming China Open Superseries, starting 15 November.

Saina Nehwal
Saina was the first Indian shuttler to win an Olympic medal Reuters

Saina Nehwal expressed concerns about her future in badminton despite being able to return from a serious injury that she suffered during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Indian shuttler has not featured in any tournament since August 2016, after her shocking exit in the group stages of the Women's singles event at the Rio Olympics. A injury to her right knee restricted her on-court movement at the Games, she revealed after the Games.

She had to undergo a surgery and only resumed her training under coach Vimal Kumar after a two-month rehabilitation period. The 26-year-old, who has been the torchbearer of Indian badminton since her bronze medal-winning run at the 2012 London Olympics, is eyeing a return to the court at the upcoming China Open Superseries, starting 15 November.

Saina is determined to work hard and get back to business at the earliest but also feels that the end of her career is nearer than expected. The 2015 All England finalist does not want to think too much about the future but is focussed on setting small targets.

"It is okay, many people will think my career will end and I won't come back. I also think somewhere deep in my heart that maybe it is the end of my career, so let's see how it is. Maybe, you never know," Saina was quoted as saying by the ESPN.

"I will be more than happy if people think I am finished, it is nice in a way, people think a lot about me, maybe now they will not.

"I just want to work hard, I just want to take care of my body and keep working on the areas that were weak and not think about winning or losing.

While her compatriot PV Sindhu, who had a terrific silver medal-winning campaign in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year, has been struggling to even reach the finals of the Superseries tournaments (Denmark and French) since her return to the court, it will be interesting to see how Saina performs.

However, she maintains that she just wants to get back to playing competitive badminton and is unconcerned about the results for now. A final call on the shuttler's participation in the upcoming China Open and Hong Kong Open tournaments will reportedly be taken in the next few days.

"I started playing badminton because my parents liked this sport, I didn't like it. I just wanted to give my best and win as much as possible," Saina added.

"I am happy that I have won so much - the number one ranking, an Olympic medal, a world championship medal, stood on the podium for all the big events.

"I don't have to set any target now, it is just to stay fit and if I am happy and doing well, the results will follow but I am not thinking much about that at the moment."