Saina says hates losing, seeing rivals celebrate

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Candid shuttler defends Gopichand, says has to work harder than most as she doesn't always have the strokes

Even post-match celebrations tend to be muted when opponents get the better of Saina Nehwal. According to India's ace shuttler, her competitors have now learnt to temper their happiness when they beat her for fear of angering her and facing her wrath the next time.

Speaking with a select audience on Friday at Express Adda — a series of conversations with people at the centre of change — the Olympic bronze medalist and World No. 2 admitted having acquired a reputation for being fiercely competitive and coming back with a vengeance if beaten by rivals. The Chinese are among those intimidated.

"The first time it happened that one of them celebrated, I got very angry and beat a bunch of them," she recalled.

Disarmingly candid, Nehwal took on all questions from an audience that responded with warmth to her candour and charm.

The shuttler has always said that she considers questions that require her to be diplomatic the toughest and on Friday, she consistently eschewed being that, including launching into a fierce defence of P Gopichand, whose role as national coach while running his own academy has become a contentious issue.

"Tell me one other coach who is dedicating his life to badminton in the country. Gopi-Sir is at the academy at 5.30 in the morning and leaves very late. Have we ever spared a thought for his family? He's produced so many champions. Why are we stopping someone who's doing good and has shown results?" she said, lamenting that unlike China, India didn't have hundreds of coaches working on producing champions.

Nehwal also patiently answered questions on another controversy, about her not turning up for tournaments in India. "My style of play is such that I need to be in top shape to win titles and need long preparation time before any big tournament. Sometimes, the knee, the ankle, the back are hurting a lot but we have to play international top meets because otherwise we have to pay hefty fines for withdrawing. But in India, I wish people didn't expect me to play every tournament, though I get calls from all organisers. You have to understand that to win I need adequate rest and healing time for injuries and my schedule is prepared keeping that in mind," she explained.

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