As 17-year-old Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Lakshya Sen finished his practice session at the Badminton Hall of Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex, Sector 3, the Uttarakhand youngster was approached by some junior players for an autograph. Sen happily obliged before shifting his attention to next day’s raining line-up announced by junior chief coach Sanjay Mishra. The youngster arrived in Panchkula on Monday after attending the official reception by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore in Delhi for Youth Olympic Games medallists. He will be part of the Indian team for the upcoming World Junior Badminton Championship to be held in Canada next month.
“Winning a silver medal in Youth Olympics Games is a special feeling and performances like these motivate a player like me. The conditions were very good in Argentina and I tried my best. I am a little disappointed after the loss in final but such things happen in every sport and I took positives from this performance. The semi-final against Kodai Naroka of Japan was also a close match and I tried my best against Li Shifeng of China in the final. In the second game, I tried to make a comeback from being 14-19 down to 19-20 before losing the match. But such close matches always give one confidence. Yesterday, meeting PM Narendra Modi along with Rajyavardhan Rathore was a moment to remember. Rathore sir himself is an Olympics silver medallist and I asked him for a selfie too,” said Sen, who lost to China’s Li Shifeng 15-21, 19-21 in the final in Argentina.
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Originally a native of Someshwar near Almora, Sen started playing badminton under his father D K Sen who was a coach at Almora. With his brother Chirag Sen too opting for badminton, the brothers would initially train at Almora before shifting to Bengaluru to train at Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in 2011. Earlier this year, Sen had won the title in the Asian Junior Badminton Championship in Jakarta and became only the second Indian shuttler to achieve such a feat after Gautam Thakkar won the title in 1965. Last year, Sen also reached the final of Tata Open apart from winning the Eurasia Bulgarian Open.
“My grandfather late CL Sen was also a badminton player and I would accompany him as a child to the courts. Later, me and my brother Chirag started playing under our father at Almora. Shifting from Almora to Bengaluru to train under Prakash Padukone and Vimal Kumar sir meant that we had to stay away from home but we understood that we have to make such sacrifices. Reaching the final in Tata Open last year was an important step in my senior career. Winning the Asian Junior Championship, where I defeated Shifeng in quarter-final, too was special as the competition in Asia is even much tougher than the world level. The focus in the last two years has been on improving my fitness level and speed and training under Prakash sir and Vimal sir has helped my game a lot,” the youngster said.
Sen will be leading the Indian challenge in the World Junior Championship to be held in Canada next month apart from playing in GP and Challenge Series at the senior level. “Conditions in Canada will be tough to adjust as it will be colder there as compared to India. In the team championship, the major hurdle will be Korea, whom we can face in quarter-finals. I will be playing in Tata Open after world junior championship apart from two senior ranking tournaments with my focus more on senior tournaments. I will be playing in Dutch Open next year apart from playing on the GP and Challenge Series. It will be a crucial phase in my career and I am ready for it,” Sen said.