India, the Thomas Cup champions, are favourites to win the Asian Games men’s team gold in badminton, feels Lakshya Sen.
He is also looking forward to meeting compatriot and Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra during the quadrennial event. The star India shuttler, a 2021 world championships bronze medallist, was one of the architects of India’s Thomas Cup victory in May last year. He said India will be a top contender for the gold at the Asian Games.
“Definitely, the team is looking really good. It is the same team that won the Thomas Cup, so we are going in as world champions. I think the players who are playing against us know that it is not easy (to defeat India), as we can beat any team in the world,” Sen said.
Sen underlined the need for a collective effort at the Asian Games. “I don’t think we lack confidence. We have this camaraderie, and we know how to go about it. We have to give our best,” Sen said.
The 22-year-old from Almora, who won a silver at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and a gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, will be playing only the team championships at the 19th edition of the showpiece.
“It will be my first experience at the Asian Games. It is a similar kind of atmosphere, like the Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympics.
“So I am looking forward to the event and also I will be getting a chance to meet other Indian and foreign athletes, and learn about their sports and life,” said Sen.
“In the Commonwealth Games last year, we were there with the table tennis contingent, as only we played from the first to the last day of the tournament. Their matches were in the next hall. So, I watched a lot of table tennis matches,” he said.
Sen, who is currently ranked world no. 11, will miss representing India in the individual event at the Asian Games after he lost to Kidambi Srikanth in the selection trials in May this year.
Sen hoped to meet Chopra, who will be competing in the javelin throw. “I’m only playing the team event. So, I look forward to meeting Neeraj (Chopra). If I get some time, I would love to go and watch him perform and support him.
“I have spoken to him before but have never met him in person.”