India’s Lakshya Sen won the men’s singles badminton gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, UK on Monday.
Lakshya Sen, in his Commonwealth Games debut, came from a game down to beat Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong 19-21, 21-9, 21-16 in the final at the National Exhibition Centre.
This is the 21-year-old Indian badminton star’s first CWG gold and his second medal - having earlier won silver in the mixed team event.
It was also India’s second badminton gold of the day after two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu won her first CWG singles gold medal.
Only three other Indians won a men's singles title at the Commonwealth Games before -- Prakash Padukone (1978), Syed Modi (1982) and Parupalli Kashyap (2014).
"It's a dream come true, and I feel happy with the way I played today," Lakshya Sen said. "I was not putting pressure on myself – I always took one match at a time – but I did have that belief that I could go all of the way."
Lakshya began the final well, with his angled shots finding their way past Tze Yong. Both players engaged in long rallies but the Indian’s misjudgments at the baseline, coupled with missing a few smashes, lost him some points.
With the game progressing evenly, Tze Yong seemed to have taken a decisive lead at 18-15. Lakshya, though, hit back in fine fashion, with his superior retrieval skills giving him four points in a row, the highlight being a diving shot that outsmarted Tze Yong, who was moving towards the net in anticipation of an easy net point.
The Malaysian then won the next points and at 20-19, the pair played another long rally and as was the case for a lot of points, Lakshya misjudged a baseline shot, giving Tze Yong the opening game.
The second game saw Lakshya pick up his shots earlier and control the tempo of the rallies. Though the game remained competitive till 8-8, the young Indian swiftly began accumulating points with his decisive smashes, winning every point after 11-9 to take the second game and level the match.
"The turning point was the second game of the match where I took the lead," Lakshya Sen pointed out. "I was playing well and a bit more patiently. That gave me a lot of confidence throughout the third game."
The decider saw Lakshya come alive, as he constructed his rallies well and chose his smashes to perfection, to take a four-point cushion at 11-7 at the change of ends.
He never looked back as he steadily maintained his lead and confirmed the gold medal with a crosscourt winner from the net.