Lakshya grabs gold at Junior Badminton Asiad

Monday, 23 July 2018, 05:19 Hrs
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sporty guy India's men's singles shuttler Lakshya Sen fought off Thai top seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn to become country's only third competitor to get a gold in the Badminton Asia Junior Championships here on Sunday.

The Indian sixth seed recorded a 21-19, 21-18 victory in 46 minutes in the Under-19 final to join Gautam Thakkar (1965) and P.V. Sindhu (2012) in pocketing a gold medal at the Asia Junior Championships.

The difference between the two finalists was very minimal and they were meeting each other for the first time. By the time they began the first game, the vociferous crowd was behind Kunlavut and it was evident that the 17-year-old Indian will have a tough time.

Understandably, Lakshya was cautious in his approach and started trailing by a few points in the first game before he caught up at 9-9.

The Indian then used his customary drop shots and half-court smashes to keep the top-seed shuttler back and forth. In the process, the Indian went ahead 13-11 and from there he never looked back despite his rival coming close to him at 16-15.

After that, the Indian just allowed him four more points to maintain a comfortable lead and pull it off, much to his relief.

In the second game, Lakshya led with a slender margin of two points almost all the time. 

However, midway through Kunlavut inched closer to his opponent and was trailing by a mere single point at 10-11. 

Yet, there was no real threat to the sixth-seeded Indian who upped the ante and forced Kunlavut into errors at the net, gaining a four-point lead. 

Not to be outdone, the Indonesian reduced the margin but it was too late in the day for him stage a real recovery.

"I am really happy with my performance. I got a very good support from team members as well. This Asian Junior gold is precious to me," Lakshya, a product of Prakash Padukone Academy in Bengaluru, said after the medal ceremony.

"The win against second-seed Chinese the other night helped me. I carried my confidence further and beat the fourth-seed in the semi-finals. And today, I played my natural game to beat Kunlavut. Since it was our first meeting, I played freely without any pressure," he added.

An elated Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Himanta Biswa Sarma promptly announced a cash reward of 10 lakh for the shuttler. 

"Lakshya has done the country proud. We have been investing on youngsters and we are happy seeing the dividends," said the BAI chief, lauding Lakshya's historic feat.

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