Take that! champion happy, not satisfied

Lakshya sets sights on senior circuit after defeating top seed and becoming second Indian to clinch Asian junior men’s badminton crown

Published: 23rd July 2018 01:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2018 07:06 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD:  For a 16-year-old, Lakshya Sen seems rather serious. He rarely looks nervous on court and maintains a serious face on and off it when a tournament is going on. On Sunday, this attitude helped him climb a mountain previously conquered by only two Indians. He grabbed the men’s singles gold at the Asia Junior Badminton Championship in Jakarta.

He became the second Indian male to achieve the feat after Gautam Thakkar in 1965. PV Sindhu had clinched the women’s singles title in 2012. The fact that his final ‘foe’ for the crown of Asian champion was Kunlavut Vitidsarn, the numero uno in the world from Thailand, makes the victory better. The Uttarakhand boy sealed the deal in straight sets (21-19, 21-18). When Express contacted him after the memorable win, he was the usual uber serious teenager that he is.

“I am feeling happy with the win, but I am not satisfied. There are a lot of other tournaments to be won. I want to do well in the senior category. However, I am happy with the way I played in this tournament.” The road to the title was filled with impediments. Lakshya had injured his shin before the tournament started. A plan was devised to help the recovery process as well as keep him undergoing the training process. “At the 15- day national camp just before the Championship, I was not going through my regular training regime. Instead of running, I was cycling.

There were other changes, too,” the shuttler said. Junior national coach Sanjay Mishra, who was with the team, said that the objective was to not put too much pressure on Lakshya. “He did not have intense training during the camp. It was a team as well as individual championship. So, we knew that we could not risk aggravating the injury,” Mishra said. Even during the tournament, there were changes in strategies. Net play became the focal point of the sixth-seeded Indian’s gameplan.

“We concentrated on net play. We wanted to increase the pace of the game to avoid playing long matches. Slow-paced games with long rallies might have resulted in him crumbling. That was the plan during the course of the championship,” Mishra revealed. While a glittering performance at the junior level is expected from Lakshya, considering that he topped the world rankings last year, his outings as a senior shuttler have been under the microscope as he is considered by many as the next big thing in Indian badminton. However, the World No 76 (senior) knows there are things that need to be added to his armoury.

“I am quite aware of the fact that I need to increase my stamina and strength if I am to perform as a senior. And I am working on the same,” he opined. The coach makes an analogy to elucidate. “If a marathon runner is made to run ten 100m sprints in a row, there is a high probability of him/her getting exhausted. This is where stamina comes into the picture. And Lakshya needs to enhance that.” Injuries have troubled him.

A shoulder problem put him out of action for three months this year. However, bolstered by the new title, the youngster is ready for his next challenge, the Vietnam Open, which is a senior tournament. A new chapter in Lakshya’s career starts there. He has done enough to feel confident before getting there. BAI announces F10 lakh Badminton Association of India announced an award of `10 lakh for Lakshya.


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