It’s less than a fortnight since Lakshya Sen won one of his career’s biggest titles – the Commonwealth Games gold medal. Having had little time to savour that victory, the Indian will seek to better his bronze medal performance from last year’s edition of the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships.
Yet, the world No.10 is unfazed by the challenge that awaits him, for his team’s approach to the closely-spaced events was different.
“When we planned for these tournaments, it was a one and a half month plan, that whatever happened at the Commonwealth Games, it wouldn’t hamper preparations for the World Championships. The approach was different… I took a break (before the Commonwealth Games), I didn’t play Malaysia and Singapore. I took time off so I could train for these big events.
“The approach was that no matter what happened at the Commonwealth Games, the main target remained the World Championships. I missed a few events before the Commonwealth Games and I got my rhythm there. I feel well prepared now. This is my second World Championships. Last year’s experience will definitely help me. The Commonwealth Games was also like a preparatory tournament where I got my rhythm back because I hadn’t played for six weeks.”
He accepts that there was little down time after the high of winning the Commonwealth Games, which, while not having an elite field, still carries enormous significance back home.
“After the Thomas Cup, for instance, we were celebrating more than usual because it was a big win and we had the time. Here we didn’t have the time. One or two felicitations, but mostly, trying to recover after those tournaments and getting ready for one more.
“At the end of the day, it’s about winning a tournament, and it gives you a lot of confidence. At the same time, when you’re entering a big tournament like the World Championships where everyone’s at their best, you have to be much better prepared than tournaments like the Commonwealth Games, where the first few rounds are easier than this. But here you will have tough matches from the early rounds.”
Since his bronze medal finish at last year’s World Championships in December, Lakshya has gone from strength to strength; this year he won the India Open, was runner-up at the German Open and the All England, and led India to a historic Thomas Cup triumph, before another strong finish at the Commonwealth Games, where the team won silver and Lakshya himself the individual gold.
The last World Championships would prove to be his breakthrough event, and Lakshya knows he has come a long way:
“We didn’t have a lot of time after that to go into an off-season break, so during that period I improved a lot in my fitness and other aspects. From the World Championships, I’d say I gained the confidence, the match feel, playing match after match and recovering well from that…
“There is a good confidence boost from the ranking as well, when you’re in the top ten. But at the end of the day, it’s about winning big tournaments. The goal here is to do better than last time but also to just go out there and give my best.”
Lakshya is in the bottom quarter of the draw and takes on Danish veteran Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus in the first round.