Lakshya Sen has come a long way since winning the silver medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. The 20-year-old from Almora has made a remarkable transition from junior to senior level while maintaining the same fearless approach that has made the world sit up and take notice of him.
On Sunday, Lakshya Sen has the opportunity to do what only two other Indian shuttles have managed to do in the history of the world’s oldest badminton tournament – win the All England title. A product of Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, young Indian Shutter is bidding to become the third man after Padukone (1980) and Pullela Gopichand (2001) to win the prestigious crown.
Lakshya meets reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in the men’s singles final of the All England Open 2022.
LAKSHYA VS OLYMPIC CHAMPION AXELSEN
It won’t be easy for the Indian fastener against the Danish star who has had the talent to rise on the biggest stages in world badminton.
The 28-year-old Shutter, who has a commanding presence on the pitch, won the 2020 All England Championships before winning the top prize at last year’s Olympics. The Dane will certainly be hungry to join an elite list of his compatriots who have found success at Birmingham on more than one occasion.
However, Lakshya can take confidence from the way he defeated Axelsen at the German Open last week. It took Lakshya an hour and 10 minutes to win a hard-fought semi-final 21-13 12-21 22-20. It was also the first time Lakshya defeated Axelsen after four consecutive defeats in which he failed to take a single game from the Dane.
The young Indian shutter has proven time and again in the recent past that he is not afraid of reputations or the big stages. Lakshya won the bronze medal at the World Championships last year and followed that up with his maiden Super 500 title at the India Open earlier this year. He then reached the final of the German Open before celebrating a brilliant run at All England.
There is no doubt that Lakshya will take to the pitch on Sunday knowing he will have plenty of support from the stands, full of confidence. Lakshya worked with Axelsen in Dubai last year and has a good understanding of the Danish star’s game.
“There’s still one game left. Then I can say whatever I want. Right now I’m concentrating on one more match. All those times when people said (good things about me) it gave me the belief that I can do well, that belief kept me going,” Lakshya told the BWF ahead of his final.
LAKSHYA ON GIANT KILL SPREE
Lakshya’s track record in recent years has raised expectations in India. The young shutter has beaten Olympic champion Axelsen (German Open), Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ginting (All England), world champion Loh Kean Yew (India Open), world bronze medalist Anders Antonsen (All England) and last year’s winner Lee (All England).
Lakshya has the tools to make it through on Sunday but it will be a test of his character as he tries to end India’s 21-year wait in one of the biggest games of his burgeoning career.
India will be delighted if Lakshya can pull off the racquet flip at the end of Sunday’s game – his signature celebration of victory.