Greater test for Lakshya Sen begins now: Padukone

Badminton great happy with shuttler's rise, but says bigger challenge is maintaining his current level.
Indian badminton legend Prakash Padukone (File | PTI)
Indian badminton legend Prakash Padukone (File | PTI)

BENGALURU: India shuttler Lakshya Sen is undergoing a purple patch. The 20-year-old, who trains at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bengaluru, is climbing the ranking charts almost every week.

Besides, he has been showing his class against some of the big names in the world of badminton. One look at his performance in the last four months narrates a clear picture. Since his bronze medal win at the BWF World Championships, he has played 15 matches, losing just twice and the latest defeat was against Viktor

Axelsen in the All England Open final on Sunday.

Lakshya's dream of becoming the third male singles player from the country to win the All England title was dashed by the Dane, but he won hearts with his visible determination and fighting qualities in the last few months. After impressive performances in different competitions, the confidence level has certainly increased after victories over top players, including Axelsen and Anders Antonsen recently. Former India great Prakash Padukone, who is also the founder of PPBA, lauded the youngster for his recent showings, but warned about the greater challenges going forward.

"The recent leg of European tournaments have been very successful for Lakshya as he has beaten some of the players ranked within the top 5 in the world. This shows that his bronze medal victory at the World Championships a few months ago was not just a flash in the pan. Over the past six months, he has been one of the most consistent performers since the international circuit resumed. This is never an easy task, especially for a youngster like Lakshya. He has truly announced his arrival on the world stage, but the greater challenge for him, begins now," the former All England Open winner said.

In fact, his game has improved in the last 12 months and his two-week training stint with Axelsen in Dubai added to his game as well. But given the demanding nature of the sport, things are not going to be easy for the shuttler. His competitors must have taken note of his strengths and weaknesses as well.

He is currently ranked 11 in the world and in order to remain inside the top five or top ten, the Almora shuttler has to be consistent, something that many talents struggle to maintain. It is also going to be a test of his mental strength when results do not go in his favour.

"From my own experience, I can say with conviction that reaching the highest level is difficult, but the bigger challenge is staying at that level as it requires a lot more effort and mental strength. However, Lakshya has all the qualities required to remain a medal contender for the next few years. He is hard working, focussed, disciplined, dedicated, grounded and most importantly, mentally very strong even while playing against players ranked higher. He has shown this quality in abundance especially in the last two tournaments that he has played," said Padukone, who wants Sen to continue his ultimate quest for Olympic glory.

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