Lakshya Sen & Kiran George: The two aces of Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy
Fresh from winning different tournaments, hopes will be high on young Indian shuttlers Lakshya Sen and Kiran George at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Malaysia next week.
Geographically, the two Generation-Z shuttlers were born miles apart – Lakshya Sen in Uttarakhand in northern India and Kiran George in the southern state of Kerala. But their zeal for the sport brought them together at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru.
Training in one academy under the same coaches, the two young men have raised high hopes within badminton circles and have embarked on a journey to make the country proud.
Lakshya was recently announced skipper of the men's team which will take part in the Badminton Asia Team Championships to be played in Malaysia from February 15-20th. Kiran, too, has found himself a place in the team. Their coach, Dronacharya awardee Vimal Kumar, is undoubtedly looking forward to his wards forming a lethal combination on the international stage.
"As a coach, I am quite happy for them. Lakshya has started showing maturity early. But when I look back four to five years, both these players were winning senior ranking tournaments in the country, even as junior players. That was the first time we knew that they had the potential to play good badminton at the world stage. Now of course, Lakshya has started beating big names, and so also Kiran," he said.
'Kiran more skillful, Lakshya more powerful'
Kiran, who had a disappointing start to 2022, after first round exits in both the Syed Modi and the India Open tournaments, found his lost rhythm in BWF Odisha Open where he walked away as champion.
"I had a really bad start to the year and I couldn't find my form. I was also struggling in the first match at Odisha Open, but when I gained confidence, it reflected in my game and I could eventually pull a victory," said the 21-year old from Kochi.
This was hardly the first spark Kiran had shown. Last year, he finished ahead of senior ranked players during the national selections after the Olympics and earned a place in the Thomas Cup.
Lakshya, on the other hand, played back to back international tournaments in 2021 and stunned world champion Loh Kean Yew to win his first Super 500 title in the India Open last month.
"Kiran plays more skillful badminton while Lakshya is more about power. The next few months are very crucial for both, especially Kiran. I will be very happy if he gets into the top 40 by the end of this year and plays in bigger tournaments," coach Vimal said.
While the duo's playing styles are different, what they have in common is that they both owe their interest in badminton to their respective fathers. Lakshya's father DK Sen is a well-known badminton coach and Kiran's father George Thomas is a former national champion. But leaving their roots aside, the lads are looking to make their own mark in the sports circuit and are supporting each other in their quest.
"It is good to have a top player in the academy. Lakshya is someone we all look up to. It is a good thing that we come from the same academy. We support and learn from each other," Kiran said.
The Badminton Asia Championships, where both the players will feature, will be held at Shah Alam, Malaysia from February 15 to 20 and serve as qualifiers for the prestigious Thomas and Uber Cup Finals scheduled to be held in Bangkok in May 2022.