Exclusive: UAE youngsters have a bright future, says world number six Lakshya Sen

The World Championship bronze medallist was hugely impressed by UAE teenager Dev Vishnu


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Indian badminton player Lakshya Sen. — PTI file
Indian badminton player Lakshya Sen. — PTI file

Published: Thu 16 Feb 2023, 11:13 PM

With their staggering displays in some of the biggest events, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu put India on the world badminton map even before they turned 20.

Both went onto attain iconic status in Indian sports, winning medals at the Olympics as well as the World Championships.

While their achievements inspired a lot of youngsters in cricket-mad India to pick up badminton racquets, it’s now Lakshya Sen who is carrying the country’s hopes on his young shoulders.

The 21-year-old Sen was a runner-up at the All England Badminton Championships and a gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games last year, having made a stirring run to the semifinals of the World Championships the previous year, earning himself a bronze medal in the biggest tournament after the Olympics.

But at the ongoing Mixed Asia Badminton Team Championship in Dubai on Wednesday, Sen, one of the most gifted youngsters in world badminton, got a glimpse into the future of sport in the UAE.

Sen stepped onto the court to open India’s Group B campaign against the home team on the second day of the tournament.

But little did he know that UAE’s 16-year-old Dev Vishnu would match him shot for shot and push him to the limit.

UAE shuttler Dev Vishnu. — Supplied photo
UAE shuttler Dev Vishnu. — Supplied photo

Sen’s greater experience eventually made the difference as Vishnu failed to capitalize on his four-point lead (12-8) in the first set in his 21-16, 21-12 defeat to the world number six.

But Vishnu’s skills and spirit won Sen’s heart.

“He played very well. A lot of young UAE players who are from India, all of them have a bright future ahead,” Sen told the Khaleej Times on the practice courts following his 30-minute post-match session with the team’s physiotherapist.

“They just need to keep working hard on their game. They have already got the opportunity to play at the highest level, amongst good opponents. It’s a good experience for them. And I hope they make the most out of this.”

Sen admitted that it took him time to get used to the playing conditions, while taking nothing away from the UAE teenager.

Members of the Indian team (left) pose with the UAE team after their match. — Supplied photo
Members of the Indian team (left) pose with the UAE team after their match. — Supplied photo

“I think I was getting used to the conditions. I was just trying out a few shots which didn’t work out well at the beginning, but I was prepared for a good match. He played very well,” said Sen before offering a piece of advice to the UAE’s young shuttlers.

“It’s a full-time job, you can’t do it part-time. Obviously, you train for five-six hours a day, and even after the training, you have to think about your game,” he said.

“If you are into any sport, I am not just talking about badminton, and if you want to reach the top level, you need to be passionate about it and give your all.”

Sen then revealed the secret to his own success at such a young age.

‘I think I was always motivated to do well, and the tournaments that I have played in the last two years have been really good for me and I have played with a lot of passion, determination,” said Sen who played a key role in India’s historic Thomas Cup triumph in Thailand last year.

“I think all the hard work which I put in from a very young age, it’s helping now. I would again say that this is just the beginning of my career, and I have to play a lot more. I love the sport and I just want to play at the highest level.”


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