The enormity of her achievement has gradually started sinking in but for Saina Nehwal, who is jumping with joy inside, it still feels like a dream that she stood on podium, receiving an Olympic medal.
The Indian badminton queen, as she is known now in media, returned home to a rousing reception, following her historic feat in London Olympics, where she won a bronze. "Its just unbelievable, I am speechless. I am happy that I actually did what I promised and believed in. It is a dream to win gold but I am happy that at least I have a bronze and is the first Indian to win a badminton Olympic medal," Saina,
flanked by her coach Pullela Gpichand and father Harvir, said at a press conference after arriving from London.
Asked how it feels, having an historic Olympic medal around her neck, she said,"From outside, I am normal and Gopi sir is normal but inside I am jumping with joy." Saina, the 22-year-old Hyderabadi, said the success story has just started and much more will be achieved in future.
"When I was standing on podium, I started crying, I thought of all the hard work I have put in all these years. It gave me inspiration. Its just the beginning and will win many more medals," she said.Saina also did not forget to mention about the people, who have all contributed in her success story.
"I was an ordinary girl but because of many people, I am a champion today. First I want to thank Gopi sir, then my dad, without whom I am nothing. The co-players who have played with me and all those who congratulated me.
"PM (Manmohan Singh) Sir and Sonia (Gandhi) Madam also congratulated me. He said, We expected gold but happy that you won bronze. I promised him that I will go for it (gold)," she said.
Saina said she has made a lot of sacrifices but the result of all the hard work is much bigger. "There is nothing bigger than standing on podium with an Olympic medal. Thats life for me," she said while responding to a question as to how she plans to compensate all the sacrifices she has made to reach this stage of her career.
Asked how she looked at her future, she said,"It depends how you progress. I played a 33-years old (Tine Baun of Denmark) in London (in quarter finals). As long as I am winning, I will continue."
Although the game of badminton brought only one medal from the London Games, Saina said that the Indian players are fast becoming a force. "Last time (Beijing Games) I played quarter-finals, this time I have a bronze, Kashyap played quarter-finals, Jwala and D Viju played good match. I think the team is getting strong for the next Olympics," she said.