Meet the pillars of strength in India’s new badminton star Lakshya Sen’s life | Badminton News

“A decade ago when we started supporting a little Lakshya Sen and transferred him to Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bangalore, Prakash sir told me that one day this boy will conquer the world. I laughed. But he obviously wasn’t joking.”
Sports can surprise you so much that you may even celebrate when you are proven wrong. In the above words of former Indian Ice Hockey Captain and Director and CEO of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), Viren Rasquinha, there is a prism of similar emotions reflecting pride, joy and a sense of accomplishment.
For the past six months, Lakshya has continued to beat giants on the court and his great run saw him reach the final at the All England Championships. He met Viktor Axelsen, the Danish legend he upset in Germany just last week. But Axelsen’s homework left nothing to chance. The result was a second All England title for him in even games – 21-10, 21-15 – on Sunday.

(Viktor Axelsen with the trophy and Lakshya Sen on the podium at All England 2022 – AP Photo)
“The result is no indication of the intensity of the game,” Vimal Kumar, Lakshya’s coach at the PPBA, told TimesofIndia.com. “No reason to be upset about the defeat yesterday.”
Vimal has his reasons for this opinion. And so are others who have been a part of Lakshya’s journey so far.
Rasquinha, through its association with OGQ; Lakshya’s coaches Vimal and Yoo Yong Sung at PPBA; Prakash Padukone himself; Lakshya’s family, of course; his physiotherapist Abdul; dr Dinshaw Pardiwala and others know all too well about Lakshya’s journey through the troughs and peaks of professional badminton, which began when he was just 10 years old.

The rise of Lakshya Sen

The rise of Lakshya Sen

You also know what Lakshya is capable of.
When Lee Zii Jia’s 397km winner sped past Lakshya in the semifinals, he was 12-16 behind in the third game. The defending champion smacked his lips and stood on the threshold of the final. But Lakshya completely threw the Malaysian player out of rhythm over the next 12 points.
The 20-year-old Lakshya did a lot to develop this fighting instinct.
His mother, Nirmala Sen, who is a retired teacher and knowledgeable about yoga, credits what her two sons have been doing under the tutelage of their father and badminton coach DK Sen during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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(Image credit: TOI Arrangement)
“There used to be a 7 a.m. curfew. So they, Lakshya and his older brother (Chirag), woke up at 5 a.m. and finished their workout and training at 7 a.m.,” she told TimesofIndia.com.
“When we couldn’t go out, his father would make room in the house by rearranging the furniture in the drawing room to make room. They practiced their serves in this room and also did yoga sessions with me.”
His first steps as a toddler in Almora, racquet and obsession with badminton was a regular sight for Lakshya and Chirag as their father was employed as a badminton coach.
“He gave his life to his children,” Lakshya’s mother said of his father’s contribution. “Almora mei sab kehte hain, iske papa ne hi isko banaya hai (everyone in their hometown of Almora says Lakshya’s father made it)”.
Both Lakshya and Chirag studied at Beersheba Senior Second School in Almora. Her mother was employed as a teacher at the same school before she voluntarily retired in 2018 to move to Bengaluru.
“The school has always been very supportive of my sons. They only went to school during exams after enrolling in PPBA. Her father used to accompany her on exam days. He used to take care of all the training, and still does. He took them to the hills to train and then they trained on the court we did in the yard until the exams came up,” she recalled.
Aside from the pandemic and the enforced lockdown, her dad’s commitment to her and the sport is a familiar thing.
“While many children became overweight during lockdown, my sons benefited and got fitter…even Vimal sir appreciated that when they returned to PPBA,” Lakshya’s mother further told TimesofIndia.com.

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(Image credit: TOI Arrangement)
For almost eight years, Lakshya was alone in Bengaluru under the care of his brother Chirag, three years his senior, while their parents continued to work and commute between Almora and Bengaluru.
“Chirag is almost like a parent of Lakshya,” said the mother.
According to Vimal, missing out on Thomas & Uber Cup last September hurt Lakshya a lot. But it also turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
On the same day that he received the news of his expulsion from the team, Lakshya received a call from Axelsen.
“Viktor invited Lakshya to Dubai for team training,” said Vimal. “When he went there, he was more than just playing with Viktor and others, he was very impressed with the way Viktor ran his affairs. He did everything alone and took responsibility.
“When he came back and asked me about it, I told him, ‘That’s what the top players do, professionals, that’s how they work. They don’t look for excuses… They have a good training base, support, everything is there.. .You should come to a point where India (FA) should invite you and say please come and play you are the best player for us and we need you.You should strive for that kind of status not ( be) fringe players,” added Vimal during his chat with TimesofIndia.com.

Also on his coaching staff is two-time Olympic silver medalist Yoo Yong Sung, who was recruited by Lakshya’s sponsor OGQ.
Sung made significant changes to Lakshya’s game within three months of his appointment (stopped in December 2021).
“It took us a year to search and interview coaches around the world before we narrowed it down to Yoo Yong Sung,” said OGQ boss Rasquinha. “OGQ pays his entire salary… It’s well worth it. He has brought immense value in terms of tactical nuance and quality and intensity of training.
“Sir Prakash and Sir Vimal were key to all of this,” Rasquinha told TimesofIndia.com.

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(Lakshya, second from left, with Viren Rasquinha and Prakash Padukone – Photo credit: TOI Arrangement)
The efforts and hard work of everyone associated with Lakshya has started to bear fruit over the past six months, with more and more elite names being added to the list of Lakshya victims.
Axelsen, Tokyo Olympics Gold Medalist, Tokyo Olympics Bronze Medalist Anthony Ginting, Reigning World Champion Loh Kean Yew, World Championships Bronze Medalist Anders Antonsen, and 2021 All-England Champion Lee Jii Zia – Lakshya has them all beaten in the past few months.
It has earned Lakshya five podium finishes in the last four months, apart from breaking into the top 10 for a while (he is currently No. 9). But as baseball legend Babe Ruth once said, “Yesterday’s home runs won’t win today’s games.”

How Lakshya enjoys the view from his current location while aiming to climb higher will hold the key to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
After losing to Axelsen on Sunday, Lakshya’s mother called him.
“Overall he was okay,” she told TimesofIndia.com.
The young man matures quickly.

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