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A look at Lakshya Sen's qualification for Paris Olympics 2024

Published at :June 10, 2024 at 2:47 AM
Modified at :June 10, 2024 at 2:47 AM
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Anmol Kakkar

Lakshya Sen will debut at the Olympics in Paris 2024.

Lakshya Sen has qualified for the Olympics for the first time. The 22-year-old from Almora, Uttarakhand secured his spot at the Olympics by finishing 13th in the Road to Paris rankings, thus ensuring his Paris Olympic qualification.

He also ensured that India would have two men’s singles player representatives at the Olympics for the first time since 2004. Lakshya Sen was struggling with his form due to fitness issues and upped his game to qualify for the Olympics.

Lakshya Sen suffered from a deviated nasal septum and underwent nose surgery in 2022. This resulted in frequent bouts of fever. As a result, his fitness was hampered and he couldn’t play well on the tour.

How did Lakshya Sen qualify for the Paris Olympics?

Lakshya Sen secured his qualification for the Paris Olympics by finishing 13th in the Race to Paris, amassing 64021 points. The Race to Paris is considered the top 10 tournaments during the Olympic cycle’s qualification period. This period began on May 1, 2023, and concluded on April 28, 2024.

Lakshya Sen’s journey to Paris Olympics

Lakshya Sen started making waves on the senior circuit after the Tokyo Olympics. He won his first World Championships medal in 2021, where he lost to his compatriot Srikanth Kidambi and thus won the bronze medal. In 2022, he won the India Open which was his first Super 500 title.

He reached three consecutive finals on the World Tour at the start of the year, which included the India Open, the German Open, and the All-England Open 2022. He also defeated Viktor Axelsen, the World No. 1 at the German Open. He then reached the final of the prestigious All-England Open. He played an important role in helping India win the final against Indonesia at the Thomas Cup. It was his win against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting which gave India a head-start.

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He also won the Commonwealth Games gold defeating Ng Tze Yong of Malaysia (19-21, 21-9, 21-16). He achieved a career-high ranking of WR 6 in 2022. However, things fell apart after the World Championships in 2022, when he had to undergo nose surgery to treat his deviated nasal septum. Lakshya started feeling unwell frequently after his surgery. His immunity became weak and he had frequent bouts of fever. His fitness was also a major concern which resulted in a poor 2023.

He had 11 first round exits in 2023 and seven consecutive first round exits on the World Tour after winning the Canada Open and finishing third at the USA Open. Even the start of 2024 wasn’t great. He lost in the opening round of the Malaysia Open and India Open, which made it nine consecutive first round exits on the World Tour. When it was looking almost impossible for Lakshya Sen to qualify for the Olympics, things changed suddenly.

Lakshya has been improving his fitness for quite a long time and the change started to become visible. He showed signs of improvement at the Indonesia Masters, where he defeated Weng Hong Yang of China in the first round and even though he lost in the second round to Anders Antonsen, he played well and it looked like he was getting back on track. At the Badminton Asia Team Championships, Lakshya Sen played three matches and won all of them in straight games. Then came the turning point, back-to-back-to-back semi-final finishes at the French and All-England tournaments.

Lakshya Sen had to do well at these two tournaments to stand a chance to qualify and he also got favourable draws. At the French Open, he defeated Kanta Tsuneyama in the opening round, Li Shi Feng his junior rival in the second round and Loh Kean Yew in the quarter-finals. He eventually lost to Kunlavut Vitidsarn in three games in the semi-finals.

At the prestigious All-England Open he defeated Magnus Johannesen in Round 1 convincingly and then made a really good comeback in the second round against Anders Antonsen. He then defeated Lee Zii Jia in the quarter-finals and lost to Jonatan Christie in the semi-finals in three games. This sealed his place at the Olympics.

Major Highlights of his career

  • 2021 World Championships bronze medal.
  • 2022 Commonwealth Games gold in individual and silver in mixed team events.
  • 2022 Asian Games silver medal in men’s team event.
  • Career best ranking of WR 6.
  • 2010 Youth Olympics silver medal.
  • 2008 World Junior Championships bronze medal.
  • 2018 Asian Junior Championships gold medal.
  • Part of 2022 Thomas Cup winning team.
  • India Open, Canada Open Super 500 winner, All-England Open runner-up.

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