The Gopichand Academy of Hyderabad is the place where Saina Nehwal trains. From her initial years in the courts, Saina Nehwal has always shown lots of potential. Being a National Junior champion, she has performed well in major tournaments, not only national tournaments but international too. She has clearly made a mark of her own.
The Junior Czech Open, which took place in the year 2003, was the beginning of Saina's career; as she went on to win the tournament. She came second in the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games. She also took part in the 2004 Junior Asian Championship. Saina became the first player to win the Asian Satellite Badminton tournament twice, once in 2005 and the again in 2006.
In 2006, Saina Nehwal became the first Indian woman to win a super-series tournament, the Philippines Open. In 2008, she became the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships. She also won the Chinese Taipei 2008 Chinese Taipei Open Grand Prix Gold, the Indian National Badminton Championships and the Commonwealth Youth Games in the same year. She was declared as the most promising player in 2008.
In 2009, she became the first Indian to win the most prominent badminton series of the world - the Indonesia Open. She also reached the quarterfinals of world championship. Saina Nehwal was honored with the Arjuna award and her coach Gopichand was also honored with the Dronacharya award in August 2009.
In January 2010, Saina Nehwal was awarded with the Padma Shri award. She also won the India Open Grand Prix Gold, the Singapore Open Super Series, the Indonesia Open Super Series and the Hong Kong Super Series in the same year. On 29th August 2010, Saina was awarded the highest national sporting award - the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. As one of the eight brand ambassadors of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Saina won a gold medal creating an epic moment in the history of Indian badminton.
In 2011, she won the Switzerland Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold and came second in the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold, the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier and the BWF Super Series Masters Finals. In 2012, Saina won the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold, the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold and reclaimed the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier, making it is her third Indonesian open title win.
In the 2012 London Olympics, Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal and became the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in badminton. For her huge achievement the state government of Haryana, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh offered her huge cash prize and the Sports Minister promised Saina a job equivalent to the rank of an IAS officer. Her success at the Olympics has surely opened new doors for sports to grow in India.
Saina Nehwal clinched her fourth title of the year by lifting the Denmark Open Super Series Premier trophy with a dominating win defeating Germany's Juliane Schenk by 21-17, 21-8 in 35 minutes. This was her first tournament after the London Games. Winning this tournament made her the only Indian after Prakash Padukone to win a Danish Open Super series title.
Awards and Accolades :
- 2009: Arjuna Award
- 2009-2010: Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
- 2010: Padma Shri
- 1 Crore Rupees Cash Award from the Haryana Government
- 50 lakh Rupees Cash Award from the Rajasthan Government
- 50 lakh Rupees Cash Award from the Andhra Pradesh Government
- 10 lakh Rupees Cash Award from the Badminton Association of India
- An Honorary Doctorate Degree by Mangalayatan University