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Asian Games

Asian Games: Why CWG champion Lakshya Sen missing the men's singles event

Lakshya, who led the Indian men's team to a historic silver medal win in the men's team event, was not included in the men's singles individual event by BAI as he lost the trial to Kidambi Srikanth.

Lakshya Sen
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Lakshya Sen in action at Asian Games in September 2023. (File Photo: AP)

By

Shourya Mehta

Updated: 4 Oct 2023 3:00 PM GMT

Lakshya Sen - the Indian badminton's budding poster boy, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and the Thomas Cup winning star - gave the Indian team a much deserving lead in a tough men’s team final against China at the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou. India settled for the silver medal eventually as it could not capitalise on the early lead given by Lakshya. Lakshya defeated Chinese world no. 6 Shi Yu Qi to give India the lead.

Lakshya has been in spectacular form since winning the Canada Open and finishing third at the US Open and Japan Open in July. But he is not part of the men's singles individual event at a time when he is coming back to his top form after a slightly rough phase following nose surgery. Due to his absence from the men's singles, India might have missed a medal chance.

But why is he not part of the singles event? Here is why.

According to the rules, a country can field a maximum of two badminton players in a singles event at a quadrennial showpiece - read here Asian Games.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) conducted the selection trials for the Asian Games in May this year. The federation has exempted HS Prannoy, PV Sindhu and Satwiksairaj Rankreddy and Chirag Shetty from the trials as they are India's highest-ranked players in the men's and women's singles and men's doubles.

So, it came down to a battle between Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya for the second spot in the men's singles event. Sen registered four wins to top Group B, beating Mithun Manjunath in two games. But he finished second in trials after losing the final 21-15, 21-14 against Srikanth. Srikanth, ranked 21st, eventually booked the second spot in the Indian team for the men's singles individual event.

World no. 14 Lakshya was, however, included in the men's team event. He delivered by helping India win a historic maiden silver medal. Srikanth could not stay up in the fight as he exited the Asian Games, losing his Round of 16 match 21-16, 21-17 on Wednesday. Srikanth also lost to Li Shi Feng in India's gold medal match against China.

China defeated India 3-2 to defend the title after Srikanth failed to win the third match of the rubber. With Lakshya and men's doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag giving India a 2-0 lead, winning their matches in straight games, a win by Srikanth there would have given a 3-0 clean sweep over China in the gold medal match. But Srikanth's defeat allowed China to make a turnaround and steal the gold medal from India.

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