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Starstruck: How Lakshya Sen was designed to use badminton as his lifeline | By Vikram Sathaye

From crying after losses to turning into a worldbeater because of it, Lakshya Sen's coaches - Prakash Padukone, Vimal Kumar used badminton as a tool to push Sen towards glory.

Lakshya Sen All England

Lakshya Sen (Source: Getty Images)


Vikram Sathaye

Updated: 28 March 2022 3:10 PM GMT

Standing across the net from Viktor Axelsen during the finals of the All England Open 2022, Lakshya Sen had his back against the wall - Axelsen had 8 championship points.

Lakshya had to do something. Nerves clawed at him but the 20-year-old snatched back the service from the Great Dane, the World No. 1 and the reigning Olympic champion and decided to make the fight last a while longer - and the next three points came Sen's way.

But by the fourth match point, Axelsen made no mistake and went for the kill, in what was his fourth-straight All England final and clinched the victory, 21-10, 21-15 to win the BWF Super 1000 title for the second time in his career.

A little disappointed with the loss as coach Vimal Kumar has relayed about how Lakshya felt after the silver win, Kumar was sure this defeat would only push Sen to come back stronger, come back better and dare again to make history.

For Lakshya Sen, losses trigger his urge to win, pumping the will to do even better. The pain of 'almost' achieving something has bothered the World No. 9 shuttler forever who was looking to end India's 21-year title drought at the All England Open.

This time, coming so close to winning, the loss feels no different, it is equally gutting, if not more for the World Championships bronze medallist from the hills of Almora, Kumaon.

The making of Lakshya Sen

Lakshya Sen at the All England Open 2022 (Source: BWF)

Lakshya Sen used to cry when he lost matches as a kid. He would also get homesick.

His coach Prakash Padukone and Vimal Kumar realised that the only way to deal with this was to use the threat that, in case he went he would be kept away from playing badminton.

One day when Lakshya said he wanted to go home, Prakash said, "Okay, you can go tomorrow. We will play without you."

The very thought of being left out had made Lakshya panic and he never said that again.

The coaches knew that badminton was his lifeline so they used it as a tool to push him - making him the world-beater he has turned out to be today.

Understanding what works with your student makes you a good coach.

Great coaches like Sir Alex Fergusson always said, "I hire players who are bad losers".

This is something that Prakash and Vimal saw in Lakshya, he cried when he lost.

Only when you feel really bad and hurt is when you put in a herculean effort so that you don't get that feeling again.

I have seen these traits in many champions.

Lakshya was hurt after this loss and nothing bothers more than being so close yet staying so far from making history. And that is the reason Lakshya will come back hard next year, his appetite has only started growing now.

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