Saina should improve fitness, speed, says Malaysian star

April 18th, 2010 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

By Pragya Tiwari
New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) Malaysia’s star shuttler Muhammad Hafiz Hashim feels it is premature to talk about India’s badminton sensation Saina Nehwal reaching the top of the world rankings heap.

Hashim, a 2002 Commonwealth Games champion and 2003 All-England champion, says Saina’s immediate concern should be to improve her fitness and speed.

The Malaysian, who reached the quarterfinals at the Badminton Asia Championships, says Saina should be left alone, putting off for some time the discussion about her future in the sport.

Hashim said the Indian, who lost in the quarterfinals to Chinese qualifier Xuerui Li, has the skills and the right approach to go far.

“Saina is good and skilful, but she is very young. It is a bit early to say whether she will make it to the top of the rankings. She has done well to break into the top 10, so she is on the right path,” Hashim told IANS.

“She has improved a lot. If she works on her physical fitness and speed a little more, she can make it to the top. It is good for Indian badminton that there is at least one player among the top-ranked women.”

Talking of Indian men, the 28-year-old Hashim said they need to be more consistent and should not be seen merely as a potential threat on the circuit.

“They should not be satisfied with an upset here or there, they need to show consistency to be counted among the best,” he said.

Hashim, who was at his peak in 2005, winning the Thailand Open, Swiss Open, Dutch Open, and finishing runner-up at the German Open and Denmark Open, was happy with the facilities at the Siri Fort Complex here, though he felt that it needs tuning up before it hosts the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games.

“The stadium is quite big, but it is not quite ready as yet. There are still five months to go for the Commonwealth Games and I hope they will get all the facilities in place by October. Since the construction work is still on, there was this particular problem of dust, which is not good for the players,” said the 28-year-old.

“Also, the security is stringent. It makes me feel secure but at the same time it can be unnerving with so many gun-totting policemen around.”

On the Chinese dominating the event even though they have not sent all their top players, Hafiz attributed it to the organised set-up in the dragon country.

“China has a string of strong back-up players. The sport is quite popular there and a lot of youngsters take it up. They put a lot of emphasis on the physical training, especially weight training at the gym,” he said.

“The fetish about fitness is a reason why the Chinese players do not go beyond 26-28 years whereas someone like Peter Gade is giving fight to the youngsters at the age of 33 or the Malaysians carrying on for long.”

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