India's badminton player Saina Nehwal returned to her home country on Tuesday, following a historic bronze medal win at the London Olympics 2012.
The ace-badminton player arrived in Hyderabad, where she received a grand welcome with garlands from the crowd that gathered outside Rajiv Gandhi International Airport near the Shamshabad outskirts.
Nehwal was accompanied by her father Harvir Singh Nehwal, Coach Pullela Gopichand and security personnel when she arrived in the city capital. The 20-year-old showed no signs of tiredness after the long flight and instead flashed a winning smile while thanking her fans for their support.
Nehwal first reached Delhi on early Tuesday on a British Airways flight, and then took a connecting flight to her hometown. The scene at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport was no different, with throngs of cheering fans rushing to catch a glimpse of sports star.
When she reached Hyderabad, she took an open bus ride from the airport to Gachibowli, a major IT suburb of Hyderabad, situated in the Serilingampally mandal of the Rangareddy district. From the top of the bus she was snapped showing her medal while waving to her fans.
From Gachibowli she went to Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy by car since the bus she was travelling in reportedly broke down as it was overloaded with media personnel and her supporters.
Earlier, Nehwal told a leading daily that she was excited to see her coach celebrating erratically despite his composed aura. "Gopi sir looks very composed but I was surprised when I saw him jumping for joy after my win. I was pleasantly shocked. He always used to tell me, 'Saina, I was not able to win an Olympic medal, but you can win it for me'," she said.
"Also, I cannot forget the contributions of my father. This victory could not have been possible without his efforts. He sacrificed a lot for me," Nehwal told The Times of India, adding that she never had any idea that she would stand on the podium and get a medal at the Olympics games.
On Aug 4, Nehwal created history by becoming the first Indian woman to enter women's badminton singles semifinals in Olympics and win a bronze medal. She won the medal after her Chinese opponent and World No. 2 Wang Xin retired from the game following a knee injury.