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Friday, June 14, 2024

Saina Nehwal: Small feet but big feats

HYDERABAD: They may be nimble and look strong but Saina Nehwal’s feet are unfit to be part of a top athlete’s anatomy.Experts who examined Saina way back in 2006, told coach Pullela Gopichand that his ward possesses very small feet and because of that her body is prone to injuries. It would be very difficult to keep her injury-free, the doctors said.The size of Saina’s feet is about 25.5 cm in length while their width is asymmetrical from toe to heel. “To hold the wide body frame that Saina possesses, one needs longer feet. Due to this peculiar condition it is very difficult for Saina to maintain fitness throughout a season,” Gopichand said.It’s because of this condition, diagnosed later as a form of ‘Plantar Fasciitis’, Saina suffered numerous injuries between 2008 and 2009 and another set of injuries slowed her back again in 2011. “A player with that condition has to be properly managed by her team.Moreover, in a sport like badminton where you need to depend a lot on your legs, this could be a major handicap,” Gopi said. But thanks to her unyielding attitude and fighting qualities, Saina works that extra yard to defeat this condition, Gopi added.”We devised separate set of exercises for her to fight this condition. It was a new issue for us. Talent-wise she is as good as anyone in the world but Plantar Fascia slows even the swiftest. Because of her small feet, one part of her body used to crack after a couple of matches.The injury could be in the knee, thigh or abdomen. Initially she used to become stiff after three or two long matches. But over a period of time because of a particular regimen we could control the condition for about one week and later two weeks,” said Saina’s physio Challagundla Kiran.He recalled an incident during the Indonesia Super Series victory last month. “She became stiff after the quarterfinal against Wang Shixian. We were worried but somehow we were able to relieve her body from stiffness,” Kiran said.Even after her quarterfinal, Saina looked to be in trouble and told her father she was not able to move her feet. Thankfully her team helped her pull through

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