Lakshya’s game has always been exciting to watch: Vimal Kumar

Lakshya Sen with Vimal Kumar and Prakash Padukone
Lakshya Sen with Vimal Kumar and Prakash Padukone (PC: Lakshya Sen/X)

As a player, Vimal Kumar’s career was overshadowed by the brilliance of Prakash Padukone and Syed Modi. He still won two national titles before moving into coaching. Chief coach at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, Vimal was a richly deserving recipient of the Dronacharya Award in 2019. In this candid chat with Boria Majumdar, editor-in-chief of RevSportz, he spoke of the upswing in fortunes of both Lakshya Sen and PV Sindhu, as Indian badminton looks ahead to another medal-filled Olympic Games in Paris.

Boria: Vimal, what have you done? Clearly there is a difference in the way Lakshya played in the last two tournaments. Is it all in the mind, or any technical adjustments?

Vimal: Thanks, for your nice words! It has been very challenging because Lakshya has been with us in the academy for 10-11 years. As a kid, he had a lot of issues with his physicality, shoulder, bit of spinal issues. So, a lot of work was done by our strength and conditioning person. So, the training has been very specific and he always has the tendency to get injuries. But he is a very athletic kid and the way he is currently playing; his game always has been very exciting to watch. Might not be technically as perfect as Prakash [Padukone] or Gopi [Pullela Gopichand] in their footwork, but he is very clever. He started to show progress in 2019, and in 2021, he did well in the World Championships. That is how we came into the limelight just out of the blue.

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Boria: But last year, there was a downfall and questions were raised over Lakshya’s Olympic qualification. But he turned it around, and that’s what I want to know. What have you done in the last few months to turn things around?

Vimal: We wanted former India internationals to get involved, but maybe initially that did not work out. Again, he came back to us, and we asked him what he thinks that he requires. He had certain suggestions and we also gave our input. Maybe that could be the key. It was nothing else. It is all about how happy they are mentally, because there is a good support system available in the country. Good coaches, physical trainers, physios are available. At the moment, he is in a happy mental state and that is helping him.

Boria: PV Sindhu has started to show some signs of a comeback. Your thoughts?

Vimal: Physically, definitely she needed attention and again, mental aspect has been given to her. She has been working on her fitness for the last 4-6 weeks. I feel that physically she is ok at the moment, and she also needed these match practices. How much you have trained does not matter, because when you are in a competitive match, that is completely different. Sindhu needs to work on cutting down her errors, and I think over time, she has lost a bit of the edge at the net. But the preparations are very important and let her play in these championships. I still feel she has another 1-2 years in her at the top level and let’s see how it goes!

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