Olympian shuttler Anup Sridhar has been brought on board to help Commonwealth Games champion Lakshya Sen in his pursuit to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, in a busy season which begins with the Malaysia Open Super 1000 on Tuesday.
The 39-year-old Sridhar, who competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also captained the 2007 Thomas Cup team, will be travelling with Sen in the Asian tournaments this month.
“I have been training with him (Anup Sridhar) for the last 3 weeks now. He and my dad (DK Sen) will be travelling with me for all three Asian events, starting with Malaysia,” Sen told PTI.
“It is in an early stage, we are getting to know each other on the court. Overall, he will be a great help in planning the sessions and strategising.
“He is immensely experienced and has played at the highest level. So Prakash (Padukone) sir and Vimal sir decided to have him join the team. There are lot of tournaments this season. It is also a pre-Olympic year. Malaysia Open is my first tournament with him. So really looking forward to it.” Sridhar, who won a bronze medal in the mixed team event at 2006 Commonwealth Games, was roped in by the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) after two-time doubles Olympic medallist Yong Sung Yoo of Korea left following the World Championships in August.
“He left four weeks after the World Championships. He was a committed coach but communication was bit of a problem. We wanted to give it a try for 8-10 months but it wasn’t working out,” said Vimal Kumar, co-founder, director and chief coach of PPBA.
“Anup has trained with us during his playing days. So we thought to give it a try. He will be there with Lakshya (Sen) during the tournaments, analyse matches and strategise. The Olympic qualification process will also start in May, so it was important.
“We will review after the Asian events at end of this month. We will get a clear idea by then. Anup will also get to know Lakhsya better and if it works out, we will take it further.” World no. 10 Sen and Sridhar were in Dubai for a two-week training session, also involving former world no. 2 Anders Antonsen from Denmark and India’s Sameer Verma.
The Asian circuit comprises Malaysia Super 1000 (January 10-15), India Super 750 (January 17-23), Indonesia Masters Super 500 (January 24-29) and Thailand Masters Super 300 (January 31-February 5).