New Delhi: Newly-crowned Asia Junior badminton champion Lakshya Sen believes he needs to work a lot on his physical strength to take on the big guns in the senior circuit. The 16-year-old from Uttarakhand on Sunday became only the third Indian to win a gold at the prestigious tournament after he beat top seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand 21-19, 21-18 in the final in Jakarta.
Lakshya participated in both the team event (July 14-17) and individual event (July 18-22) of the Asia Junior Championships and the teen shuttler said it was physically demanding. "This Asian Junior gold is precious to me. It was a long tournament, so the focus was on recovering quickly after each match. It was not easy as ahead of the tournament I had to tweak my training a bit as I had suffered a shin splint. During the tournament I had to take pills sometimes to curb the pain," he said.
"Once I return to India, I will have to discuss with my coach and see what would be my training sessions. But I know I have to work on my overall physique, need to improve my strength to do well in the senior circuit," said Lakshya, a trainee of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bangalore.
The youngster was troubled by his shoulder at end of last year. After missing action for the first three months this year, he made a comeback at Osaka International Challenge in April and played an international series at Indonesia before stretching legendary Lin Dan twice at New Zealand Open and Thomas Cup Final in May.
"It was a dream come true to play Lin Dan but those two matches were a learning experience. I understood where I lacked and what I need to do," said Lakshya, who won two series level tournaments in Hyderabad and Bulgaria and entered the final at the Tata Open International Challenge in December last year.
Former national coach Vimal Kumar, who has groomed Lakshya, was pleased with his ward's clever game in the final but said the talented shuttler has to be careful with his body.
"He is growing, suddenly he has gained height and so he is having issues with his shoulder, ankle and shin areas. He missed out a few tournaments. Before leaving for Asia Junior, he couldn't play for a week because of a shin splint. So considering all that, I am very pleased with his performance," Vimal said.
"He has started hitting hard but his muscles are still very weak. So he needs to do a lot of strengthening workouts to improve his physique because he is skilful. His shot making and other things are good but to do well against a senior player, he needs to work on his strength," he said.
Vimal is overall happy with Lakshya's transition from junior to senior level.
"At 16-17, you should be able beat top players and run the senior players close. He is doing that, so it is a good sign. But he has not been able to play too many tournaments. So he has to be careful. We can't push him that hard in training because he is still growing," he said.
Lakshya will next eye medals at the World Junior Championship and Youth Olympics later this year.
"He will now look forward to the Youth Olympic Games in October and World Junior Championship in November and immediately after coming back in 10 days time he is playing in Vietnam Open and Spanish Open in the senior circuit," Vimal said.