New Delhi: Badminton champion Saina Nehwal Wednesday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), becoming the latest sports star to join the national party.
Nehwal, who became the first Indian woman to rank as world number one, represented the country in three Olympic Games and also won a bronze at the 2012 Olympics. In 2016, she was conferred the Padma Bhushan by the Modi government.
“Today, I am joining a party that performs well for the country… Modi Ji has done so much for sports in India with initiatives like Khelo India. Looking forward to work hard for the country and the people,” she said, according to the BJP.
Nehwal’s elder sister Chandranshu also joined the party along with her.
At the induction, BJP general secretary Arun Singh told reporters that Saina had brought glory to the country with her many international titles.
Nehwal’s induction comes less than a fortnight before the Delhi assembly polls, a significant electoral test for the BJP which has faced a slew of losses in the past year.
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Wrestling champions Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt, and former hockey team captain Sandep Singh had joined the BJP weeks before the Haryana assembly election in October 2019.
Born on 17 March, 1990 in Haryana’s Hisar, Nehwal shot to fame after winning the Asian Satellite Badminton tournament in 2006, becoming the under-19 champion at the age of 16.
She went on train with former badminton champion Pullela Gopichand, winning five international tournaments in 2010, including the India Open Grand Prix Gold, Indonesia Open Super Series, Singapore Open Super Series and the Hong Kong Open Super Series. She also won a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in India.
She was also awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna that year by the UPA government, a year after being conferred the Arjuna Award.
Her dream run continued in 2012 when she won back to back tournaments, coming first in the Swiss Open, Thailand Open, Indonesia Open, Denmark Open and the French Badminton Open. She also won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
However in 2015, Nehwal suffered a knee injury, forcing her to sit out of the game for a few months. Her medical problems continued even in 2019 as the shuttler dealt with issues with her shin, ankle, hip and wrist.
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