Saina Nehwal shines bright for Indian badminton once again
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Saina Nehwal's hard work over the years was rewarded by a perfectly-timed stroke of luck as she clinched a historic bronze medal in the London Olympics to cover new ground for Indian badminton in a mostly successful year.
After a rather subdued performance last year, Saina turned 2012 into a milestone year for Indian badminton when she fetched the country's first Olympic medal at the London Games, winning the bronze in August.
In the Olympic year, Saina won two Grand Prix Gold titles -- Swiss Open and Thailand Open -- besides winning the Indonesia Super Series and Denmark Super Series. She also reached the finals of the French Open.
Besides Saina, the other shuttlers such as Parupalli Kashyap, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa and V Diju also made it a watershed year for Indian badminton when they qualified to compete in the Olympics -- a first for the country.
Kashyap was another bright spot for India as he became the first Indian male shuttler to reach the quarterfinals of an Olympic event since badminton made its entry into the quadrennial event in 1992.
Star doubles player, Jwala, also continued her good run and shepherded India to make an entry into Olympics when she along with her women's and mixed doubles partners, Ashwini and Diju respectively, qualified for the Games.
But none of the doubles pair could reach the knockout stage in the Olympics.
Saina, as usual, was the brightest name in Indian badminton as she geared up for the Olympics with some stupendous performances early in the year.
She first defended her Swiss Open title by defeating then World No. 2 Wang Shixian of China, a day after she turned 22.
With the Olympics approaching, the Hyderabadi stepped up her performance and clinched the Thailand Open by defeating local talent Ratchanok in June.