Mumbai: India ace shuttler Saina Nehwal on Monday dedicated her Padma Bhushan award to coach U. Vimal Kumar under whose guidance she rose to the top of the world rankings.
The 25-year-old Saina has already been a recipient of the Arjuna Award (2009), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2010) and Padma Shri (2010).
“I would like to thank the ministry for giving me Padma Bhushan. It is a great feeling, very honoured. I would like to dedicate the award to my coach U. Vimal Kumar sir totally. The way he has helped me in the last one year is great and made me become World No.1 and so many other achievements,” Saina said in a statement.
“Also, I would like to thank my parents, physio Sidhharth and trainer Deckline Leitao for supporting me so much,” the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist added.
Ahead of the 2014 Asian Games, Saina decided to move out of Pullela Gopichand Academy and switched her training base to Bengaluru under the guidance of Vimal. Her decision came after being laid low by a spate of injuries and a series of disappointing losses, including the 2014 BWF World Championships.
She started 2015 on a brilliant note by winning the India Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow, beating reigning world champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the final. She followed it up with her lone Superseries title in March — India Open — which she won here, defeating former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the summit clash.
And the results showed as she captured the 2014 China Open title and in 2015, reached the finals of three prestigious events — All-England, World Championships and China Open. The Khel Ratna awardee also achieved quite a few firsts this season.
In the India Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow, she beat reigning world champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the final. She followed it up with her lone Superseries title in March — India Open — which she won here, defeating former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the summit clash. She also became World No.1.
Saina is one of India’s biggest hopes of winning a medal at the forthcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
Padma Bhushan is India’s third highest civilian award after Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan.