Lakshya Sen scripts sensational comeback to win maiden Commonwealth Games gold in epic men's singles badminton final
India shuttler Lakshya Sen added to his illustrious list of achievements in 2022 by winning an elusive gold at the Commonwealth Games 2022, when he defeated Ng Tze Yong of Malaysia 19-21, 21-9, 21-16 in the men's singles badminton final on Sunday.
India shuttler Lakshya Sen added to his illustrious list of achievements in 2022 by winning an elusive gold at the Commonwealth Games 2022, as he defeated Ng Tze Yong of Malaysia 19-21, 21-9, 21-16 in the men's singles badminton final on Sunday. Lakshya scripted a stunning comeback from being a game down to win the next two in rather formidable fashion in a classic lasting over an hour. Lakshya, who was at the forefront of India's Thomas Cup win and is a bronze medal winner at the World Championships, continued his brilliant run of form, and cemented himself as the fastest rising star of Indian badminton with a CWG medal.
Eight days shy of turning 21, Lakshya had a party to remember in Birmingham in advance as he joined fellow shuttler PV Sindhu in winning the country’s second individual badminton gold at CWG 2022 and took India's medal count at the Games to 57, this being the 20th gold. Lakshya's foot was on the pedal from the first serve, as his combinations and drop shots and cross court smashes gave him an early 5-2 advantage, but Yong kept the 20-year-old on feat, not allowing the lead to swell. Lakshya's stunning court coverage allowed him to counter everything Yong threw at him, but it also occasionally caught him off guard. The level-headedness of the contest could be gauged by the fact that at the first game interval, the Malaysian was just ahead by two points.
There was more indecision from Lakshya as he challenged a decision when the shuttle had clearly landed inside. Lakshya had a long rally where he had plenty of chances to put it away but decided against it, and the decision went against him. It was beginning to become a gruelling match as after 20 minutes, a total of only 31 points had been scored. Another nervous looking error from Lakshya allowed Yong to grab a three-point advantage, but the Indian youngster levelled it to 18-18. Lakshya then took an incredible point, almost losing his balance but placing the shot right to pocket four straight points. However, it was Yong who regrouped in the final stages of the opening game to win in.
Something happened between the two games that changed Lakshya's approach entirely. While in the first game, Lakshya was mostly reactive, in the second he dictated terms and made Yong work harder. The Malaysian had his nose slightly ahead at 8-6, but call it a rush of energy or whatever, Lakshya went on a rampage for the remainder of the game. He won 15 points out of the final 16 – 14 straight to completely shut the door on Yong. The Malaysian jingles in the crowd were replaced by 'Jeetega Bhai Jeetega… India Jeetega' chants, and even Yong himself had given up hoping to save all his energy and channel his focus on the deciding game.
But it hardly made a difference as Lakshya did not let any momentum slip. He started the game with a 6-3 lead, and even though Wong tried to close the gap, it did not last long as a Lakshya kept piling his attacks and led 11-7 at the interval with a four-point cushion. Yong could not recover from there and fell behind. To make matters worse, Yong hurt his leg which acted as the final nail in coffin, and Lakshya completed the formalities, fittingly… with a cross court smash.