Bengaluru (PTI): World No. 1 badminton player Saina Nehwal was left mighty impressed with Narendra Modi’s knowledge on sports. The ace shuttler said the Prime Minister made her feel like a family member when they met ahead of his 65th birthday.
“The meeting lasted for about half an hour and I was surprised that he knew about my family and my game so comprehensively as if he was a family member,” Saina said, a day after gifting the Prime Minister one of her racquet’s on the eve of his birthday.
Modi emphasised on the role of family in ensuring that kids take up sports as a career and also spoke on the role of business and jobs associated with sport, Saina said.
“I invited him to visit the Rio Olympics next year. He also discussed about Commonwealth games, Asian Games and Olympics,” she said.
Asked what impression she carried on Prime Minister’s knowledge on sports, Saina said, “He is well versed about sports and sportspersons in India. He knows the projects being carried out in sports in our country. He also mentioned about the Sports Kumbh in Gujarat during his chief ministership.”
Modi further spoke about the growing interest among girls to take up badminton after her success at the world stage and appreciated her father Harvir Singh Nehwal’s role in shaping up her career, said Saina.
She also briefed the Prime Minister about her silver medal winning feat at the World Championship and becoming world number one.
“It was a general meeting with Honourable Prime Minister to brief him about my performance in World Championship and being as world number one in badminton. It coincided with his birthday so it became more important,” she said.
“I wished him all the best ahead of his 65th birthday, presented him my racquet with which I played the World Championship final. He was kind enough to receive it and told me that he will put it as a precious item in the list of gifts given to Prime Minister of India. He also discussed about my popularity outside the sporting world and I mentioned him about India’s growing visibility in the world through his overseas visits.”
Asked about her early exit in Japan, Saina said, “Many a times the opponents are judged as less potent but they are not. Mitani (Minatsu) proved better than me.”
Sania is now preparing for tournaments in Denmark and France.