On the court, the all-India semifinals at the BWF Badminton World Championships looked like a fierce battle of two gladiators. While one fought for regain his lost pride of being the world no. 1, the other was chasing history at his maiden outing at biggest tournament of the sport.
The former, Kidambi Srikanth, though might have reigned supreme in today's encounter but his opponent and counterpart Lakshya Sen showcased what could be in store for Indian badminton after the likes of Sindhu and Kidambi retires. The 20-year-old Almora lad, in fact, creates history by becoming the youngest Indian male badminton player to win a BWF World Championships medal by winning a bronze.
Screengrab from the BWF World CHampionships semifinal
Lakshya fought toe-to-toe to give his senior, Kidambi, a run for the final beth and created a heap of pressure over the 28-year-old by bagging the first game 21-17. His composed demeanour and mastery of long rallies coerced Kidambi to give away points. A mentee of the legendary Prakash Padukone, India's first World Championship medallist in 1983, Sen has always been deemed as the bright-eyed Indian prodigy when he won his first major title — the U15 Nationals just at the age of 12, followed by U19 title at 15. Interestingly, Lakshya becomes the only Indian shuttler medal at Youth Olympic Games (silver -2018), Junior World Championships (Bronze - 2018) and Senior World Championships.
His father DK Sen has been his coach since he first began playing. Lakshya's greatest gift so far has been his tenacity to fight every challenge thrown at him, which could be seen prominently in his quarterfinal encounter with Zhao Jun Peng. Lakshya's feat is akin to PV Sindhu, who also won her first World Championship medal, a bronze, on her maiden outing in 2013.
After a promising runner-up position finish at the Dutch Open International Challenge 2021 in October, the World Championships bronze would be another landmark achievement for Sen who would wrap the year with plenty of positivity. Interestingly, Lakshya's feat is akin to PV Sindhu, who also won her first World Championship medal, a bronze, on her maiden outing in 2013.