Youth Olympics: Lakshya Sen among favourites again

Should Lakshya reproduce the same form as in the Asian juniors, the gold medal will be his for the asking.

Lakshya Sen, winner of the Asian junior title in July, will again be one among the favourites at the Youth Olympics.   -  Ranjeet Kumar

Unlike in many events, India will be looking for a gold medal in men’s badminton at the Youth Olympic Games.

Lakshya Sen, winner of the Asian junior title in July, will again be one among the favourites. Though World junior champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn will be around, Lakshya will still be expected to beat the top seed just like the way he did in the Asian junior final.

In the girls section, Vaishnavi Reddy will have to punch above her weight to claim a medal. The World No. five is likely to be seeded behind China’s Wang Zhiyi, Thailand’s Phittayaporn Chaiwan and Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei.

Going by the way Lakshya landed the continental junior title, by dismissing all opposition without being seriously stretched, makes him a favourite. As per records, Lakshya is 17 but this could well turn out to be his penultimate participation in the junior ranks. He will be among the favourites in the upcoming Junior World Championship.

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The field has several top-10 ranked players including World No. 2 Ikhsan Leonardo Imanuel Rumbay. Others who form the creamy layer are, Nhat Ngyen (Ireland), Arnaud Merkle (France) and Li Shifeng (China), ranked fourth to sixth in the latest world list.

It must be remembered that Lakshya has beaten most of these players. In fact, Lakshya’s  21-7, 21-14 triumph over Rumbay in the Asian junior semifinals had made him the pre-final favourite in spite of the presence of Vitidsarn in the title-clash.

Should Lakshya reproduce the same form, the gold medal will be his for the asking.

In the girls section, Vaishnavi has the game to win a medal in the competition. She has done very well in the junior tournaments, winning several titles around the world. Even among the seniors, she is ranked third behind P. V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. Her performances in the women section are yet to blossom but among the juniors, she is a force to reckon with.

Since Vaishnavi is based in Bangkok and trains at the same Academy as second ranked Phittayaporn Chaiwan, she will be hoping to be in a different quarter than her more accomplished sparring partner.

In mixed doubles, Lakshya and Vaishnavi will have to combine well in the limited days that they get to work on their combination.

Overall, India can hope the duo to bring more than one medal.

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