Worked on my speed and variations, says Lakshya Sen
Lakshya Sen, a star shuttler for India, has focused on his "speed and variations" in order to be battle-ready for the next season as he chases championship victories in the Asian and European circuits in order to at the very least secure an Olympic place in Paris, that is a year away.
Sen started off 2022 with winning his first Super 500 race at the India Open. He also won silver at the All England Championships, the Commonwealth Games gold, and contributed to India's historic Thomas Cup victory.
The 21-year-old from Almora believes that this demanding season, which includes high-profile tournaments like the Asian Games and the World Championships, is the ideal opportunity for him to push the edge even further.
"This is the right time for me. If I can maintain this ranking and keep improving, I have a good chance to qualify. Unfortunately, last time I was close to qualifying but few events didn't happen due to COVID-19 but those are all learning experiences," Sen told PTI in an interview.
"I'm mainly focusing on my fitness. After my nose surgery, my fitness went down but I got time during the off-season to get it back. I worked a lot on my speed, quickness in attacking and variation from the backcourt. I am steadily working on my defence. Playing the big events gave me a lot of confidence. I have experienced playing in the top circuit. So I will try to remain injury-free and play freely in the event."
After the World Championships in August, Sen had a nose operation to correct a deviated nasal septum. He travelled to Dubai in December to train with Sameer Verma, Anders Antonsen, and new coach Anup Sridhar.
"I have to plan the season properly as lots of important events are coming up. I have to pick and choose the right ones. It will be all about maintaining a good ranking and pre-tournament and off-season training to keep myself fit. I plan to play three events in Asia and three in Europe in next few months. Once Olympic qualification starts in May, I have to see how I do and take a call as the season goes ahead. My target is to qualify in the first half so that I can plan the rest of the tournaments better."
Sen will participate in the India Open and the Indonesia Masters Super 500 after narrowly losing in the season-opening Malaysia Open.
In addition to the crucial All England Championships, the European circuit will feature three Super 300 tournaments in Germany (March 7–12), Switzerland (March 22–26), and Spain (March 28–Apr 2). (Mar 14-19).
During the second part of the season, major competitions including the World Tour Finals, Asian Games, and BWF World Championships will take place (Dec 13-17).
Sen, the current champion, is excited about the possibility of competing in front of his or her own supporters after losing out on them at the last India Open, which was staged behind closed doors because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"I've a good chance to retain the title. I mean it is a tough draw, there are lots of good players in the same quarter, but I am looking to play all of them," he said.
"This time there will be crowds. During the All England final last year, I was star-struck by the crowd. It was a packed stadium and when you play in front of fans, it gives you extra motivation, so looking forward to it."
Sen claimed the support of his family helped him keep focused throughout his spectacular performance the previous year, which occurred in the midst of an age-fudging lawsuit just days after he got the Arjuna Award.
"That was a tough time. I think it was all planned in such a way that two days after the Arjuna Award, it happened. But it did not bother me much because I was focussing on my training. We didn't have anything to be worried. My family made sure that I was not worried."