Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal was 13 when she first travelled to Prague to play an international tournament. Find out about the Olympic medalist’s travels around the world in pursuit of glory. By Sumeet Keswani
T+L What is it like to travel the world as a sportsperson?
Saina Nehwal: Travel is essential but challenging for a player. Within a week, you go through a lot. A win means you get a hero’s reception on return; a loss means more rigorous training. My first international trip was to Prague in 2003. I was a minor then (13 years old), so my father was asked to send a guardian certificate for me to enter the country. I don’t remember the hotel or even the stadium I played at, just that I won the tournament.
T+L Which are your favourite cities around the world?
Saina Nehwal: I like Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and coastal cities of China like Macau. In Europe, I like Paris, Basel, and Copenhagen, but I’m always afraid of extreme winters. The Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney are my favourites in Australia. Brazil feels like India.
T+L A destination that you want to visit.
Saina Nehwal: I would like to visit Jakarta time and again. I won my first super series title there in 2009, becoming the first India woman to do so. Also, I haven’t visited the US yet.
T+L The most awkward experience you’ve had while travelling.
Saina Nehwal: Air turbulence scares me. On my second-ever international trip, to Singapore, I vividly remember embracing the seat in front and screaming.
T+L What does luxury mean to you?
Saina Nehwal: I like a hotel that has a 24-hour gym.
T+L What item(s) do you never travel without?
Saina Nehwal: My laptop for the daily dose of TV shows.
T+L Your top three luxury hotels around the world?