Lakshya Sen becomes the third Indian shuttler after PV Sindhu and Gautam Thakkar to win a gold medal at the Junior Asian Championships.
More than half a century after Indians captured the junior and senior titles at the Asian Badminton Championships. An Indian stood astride the topmost rung of the podium at the Jaya Raya Sports Hall in central Jakarta. A gold medal reposing against his chest.
Sixteen-year-old Lakshya Sen emulated the 53-year-old feat of Maharashtra’s one-time badminton poster-boy, Gautam Thakkar. Gautam Thakkar won the Asian junior title at Lucknow in 1965. That year has gone down in the annals of Indian badminton as a golden occasion. In that year only the returning machine Dinesh Khanna won the Asian senior title. PV Sindhu remains the only female Indian shuttler to bag the Asian junior crown. She achieved the feat in 2012.
“I had prepared well for this competition, the way I do for every international tournament. And I felt I was playing better and better with each successive round leading up to the final.”. said the Almora, Uttarakhand native. Sen had rounded off a productive week. He notched up a richly deserved 21-19, 21-18 triumph. It was against the top seed and the World No 1 junior, Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand.
It was by no means an easy match. The Indian had romped into the final of the 128-player draw after sidelining the No 2 and No 4 seeds in successive rounds. Sen freely admitted to having felt the pressure of not only being the only Indian player in the finals of a tournament dominated by the Chinese but also being just the sixth seed in the event, facing the world’s top junior and the odds-on favourite to win the title.