Dec 13, 2008

Sport - India;Passport office shatters Saina's dream

HYDERABAD: A day after she considered herself lucky to qualify for the world’s top badminton tournament, teen sensation Saina Nehwal was in for a rud
e shock when she was told by the regional passport office here that her passport could not be renewed before next Monday. ( Watch )

Saina was jumping with joy on Thursday after hearing that she had been included in the main draw of the Yonex-Sunrise BWF World Super Series Masters Final to be held in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, from December 18 to 21.

Little did she know that people of her own city would be so insensitive as to deny her the chance to play in the prestigious event.

Saina had applied for the renewal of her passport on December 2 and was given a December 10 date for delivery. However, the RPO failed to keep its promise and ever since, Saina has been making rounds of the RPO.

When she got the news of her qualification, she sought an appointment with the passport officer on Friday but her request was brushed aside, with the officer’s secretary telling her to come on Monday.

Deeply shocked, Saina told TOI that she had lost all hope of participating in the Masters Final. "I am terribly shocked. I will be missing a chance to participate in the best event in the world. Even if I manage to get the passport on Monday, I don’t think I can make it as I have to obtain a visa from Chennai," said Saina.

Wondering how she could have persuaded the RPO staff, Saina said, "I told her I am the country’s top shuttler and this is a rare opportunity, but she would not listen. I was treated very badly. This is not the way to treat sportspersons. I am deeply hurt."

The 18-year-old is shaken because this opportunity comes at a time when she is in great form. "I am in great shape now. I thought I can do something great in this particular tournament," said Saina.

Only the eight best players in the world make the cut for this $5 lakh prize money tournament, the highest ever, and Saina qualified after China pulled out all its players from the event.

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