World Junior No. 4 Lakshya Sen will be shouldering the burden of India’s fortune at the Li Ning BWF World Junior Badminton Championships 2018, beginning at Markham (Canada) today (Monday).
The 23-member squad will look up to Lakshya, the reigning Asian Junior champion, to spearhead the Mixed Team’s podium charge for the first-ever medal from the Worlds since it was included in the year 2000. The 14-day championships, starting with team action continues until November 10 and will be followed by individual events, beginning from November 11 to 18,
Understandably, China who won the title in the last edition, have been seeded No. 1, followed by Indonesia at No. 2, while South Korea and Thailand share the third spot, having entered the semifinals. The remaining four teams that finished among the top eight have been accorded the No. 5 seeding positions.
India, who are seeded No. 5 and placed in group E, are clubbed with Algeria, Faroe Islands, Kenya and Sri Lanka, giving the Indian squad a great opportunity to make it to the quarterfinals, their first priority. However, they will be wary of the only other seeded team in the group is Algeria, four places behind them at No. 9.
The Canada world event is the opportunity that most of the current junior crop, including Kiran George, Priyanshu Rajawat, Alap Mishra among boys and Malvika Bansod and Gayatri Gopichand in girls, would like to use as the springboard to enhance their reputation.
Teenager Lakshya said he was aware of the task at hand and he would give his hundred percent to live up to expectations. “I know how important the world championships are for all of us. Personally, I have a lot of responsibility and I would do all that is possible to give my best shot at the medals, both at team event as well as in individuals,” he said.
There are 41 teams in fray and they have been divided into eight groups of five teams each with top group split into A1 and A2, each having three teams. The group matches will be played on round-robin league basis with the group leader making the cut for Stage II, which is the knockout round.
Ajay K Singhania, General Secretary BAI, was equally confident of Indian performance. “The Junior team in the recent times have been doing really well both at team as well as individual events. I am sure the junior shuttlers will do their best to keep the tricolor flying high. I wish them all, best of luck of behalf of the Association,” said the BAI Secretary General.
India’s best show so far at the World Juniors has been Saina Nehwal winning the only gold at the 2008 edition when it was held in India.
All the players, who attended a 16-day preparatory camp in Panchkula ,were upbeat before they departed for the Canadian city.
Boys: Lakshya Sen (AAI), Kiran George (Ker), Alap Mishra (MP), Priyanshu Rajawat (MP), Dhruv Kapila (AI), G. Krishna Prasad (AP), K. Manjit Singh (MNP), K. Dingku Singh (MNP), Sai Krishna Sai Kumar (TS), P. Vishnuvardhan Goud (TS), Navneeth Bokka (TS), Akshan Shetty (Mah).
Girls: Malvika Bansod (AAI), P. Gayatri Gopichand (TS), Purve Bhave (AI), Sahiti Bandi (TS), R. Thanusree (TN) Aditi Bhatt (UTR), Tanisha Crasto (Goa), K. Ashwini Bhatt (KTK), Shrishti Jupaddi (TS), Rashi Lambe (Mah).