Mumbai: Badminton legend Rudy Hartono says Nehwal must work on fitness and accuracy to boost her chances for 2012 Olympics gold
All hopes are pinned on Saina Nehwal to win India's maiden Olympic medal in the sport.
After missing the bronze by a whisker at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, expectations are expectantly high from the 21-year-old for next year's London Games.
Badminton legend Rudy Hartono believes Saina must work harder than ever to achieve that goal. "Saina has this year and the next, which is the year of the Olympics, for the big one. A badminton player peaks between the ages of 20 and 26. She needs to prepare herself very well by training hard for the big events," Hartono said at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) Worli yesterday where he was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement award along with one of India's greatest shuttlers Prakash Padukone.
"Saina has proven her ability and is a good stroke player. But she needs to improve her accuracy even when she is out of position on the court. She has talent and only needs to work harder.
"Next year is the Olympic Games and if she misses the bus then by the time the next one comes she would be 27. She cannot afford to let the opportunity go this time," the 61-year-old Indonesian added.
The Hyderabadi has been blowing hot and cold this year after recovering from an ankle injury.
After a below-par performance at the start of the year, Saina bounced back to win the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold title.
She will look to win her second title of the year when she takes the court as top seed at the Thailand Open Grand Prix in Bangkok today.
Hartono, who won the All-England title eight times including seven consecutive victories (1968-1974), reckoned Saina needs to work on her fitness. "She needs to work hard on her fitness. It's no good only to impress with your stroke-play, but you need to finish off points," he said.