No more nose issue to deal with, Lakshya bent on qualifying for the Games

SHAH ALAM: A nose surgery almost halted Lakshya Sen’s (pic) career in 2022 but the Indian shuttler didn’t allow the setback to completely destroy his Olympic dreams.

Lakshya, having won the Birmingham Commonwealth Games gold, was forced to undergo a surgery for a deviated septum right after the 2022 World Championships in Tokyo in August.

It took away some precious seven months in Lakshya’s budding career and the 22-year-old player was also out of the top 30 in the early part of last year before slowly regaining his momentum in the Olympic qualifying race.

Lakshya is currently ranked world No. 19 and believes he can join compatriot H.S. Prannoy, ranked No. 7, at the Paris Olympics by breaking into the top 16 with good results at the European tournaments next month.

“Lots of ups and downs for me last year but I have completely recovered from the health issues and I will focus on qualifying for the Olympics in the next two months,” said Lakshya during the Asia Team Championships.

“Starting from the European tour, I have about four to five tournaments which will be crucial for the Olympic qualification.

“If I can do well in those tournaments, it will not be a tough task to break into the top 16 and make it to the Paris 2024.”

Lakshya has not won a title since securing the Canada Open last year and didn’t have a good start this year after losing in the first round of the Malaysian and Indian Opens and crashing out in the second round of the Indonesian Masters.

The French Open in Paris (March 5-10) and the All-England (March 12-17) will be his main focus in Europe and he is also likely to play in the Swiss Open (March 19-24) and Spanish Masters (March 26-31) to elevate his ranking further.

Lakshya is also looking forward to helping India’s strong run in team events and win the Asia Team Championships for the first time.

“This team gel well on and off the court and winning the Thomas Cup has given us the motivation. We haven’t won this tournament and we will definitely try to win this tournament,” added Lakshya.

“This is also a good preparation for us as we will be defending the Thomas Cup in three months’ time.”

India, who beat Hong Kong 4-1 in Group A to reach the last eight, will play China to decide the group champions today.

The Thomas Cup Finals will be held in Chengdu, China from April 28-May 5 where the hosts are likely to be India’s strongest rivals.

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