Korean coach Yoo Yong-sung back in Lakshya Sen's team ahead of Paris Olympics - Hindustan Times
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Korean coach Yoo Yong-sung back in Lakshya Sen's team ahead of Paris Olympics

Jun 17, 2024 09:40 PM IST

The 22-year-old, preparing to make his Olympic debut, wants to tweak the variations in his attack before the July-August Games.

Korean coach Yoo Yong-sung, who had a brief spell as Lakshya Sen’s coach in 2022, has been brought back to assist in the training of the Indian youngster ahead of the Paris Olympics. He’s expected to travel to Marseille with Lakshya for a training stint at the Halles des Sports Parsemain.

India's Lakshya Sen plays against Denmark's Anders Antonsen (AP)
India's Lakshya Sen plays against Denmark's Anders Antonsen (AP)

“It’s nice to be back with Lakshya,” Yoo told HT. “I’m going to be with him for a month or so for now.” Yoo’s return was necessitated particularly to manage multi-feed sessions for Lakshya in the run-up to the Olympics. A former doubles coach, Yoo’s strength in that aspect made a case for his addition to Lakshya’s team in preparation for the 22-year-old’s Olympic debut.

Lakshya is grinding away in training. He has one more tournament – Canada Open in early July – before he finds his way into the Olympic Village in Paris. While his defence can be eye-popping on a good day, variation in his attack might still need some work. “At times when I’m hitting hard, my opponents are already anticipating it and waiting in the back court. I need to bring in sharp drops, change it up a bit and keep them guessing,” Lakshya told HT.

To get into a better shape for attack, he believes it might help to cut down on his signature reflexive sideways dive. The sideways dive and jumping back on his feet in a jiff routine while a delight a watch can often leave him unbalanced and ill prepared for the next shot. “It’s hard to go straight into attack after a dive. It’s like I’m always playing catch up. So yeah, I don’t want to do it much. When I dive, I can be late for the next shot.”

Lakshya believes the Olympics could be an open contest with no one really crushing the field at the moment in men's singles. Reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen has won one World Tour title this year, lost his No.1 spot after 132 weeks and doesn’t appear to be his invincible self. Lakshya lost to Axelsen in three games at the Singapore Open earlier this month but it wasn’t without giving the Dane a bit of a scare. Axelsen’s spirited celebration at the end of the match was telling on how it could have gone either way.

“I think earlier what would happen is if you played him in say a semi-final or quarter-final you’d find him super fresh while you might be really tired after long matches in previous rounds. So, it was really tough to beat him. But now he’s also having tough matches. It’s hard for him to maintain that peak form physically, I suppose. Last year, I went to Dubai to train with him; sometimes we train together during tournaments. At the Olympics, I think a lot will depend on the draw. Shi Yu Qi is playing well but he's not like Viktor in peak form who would just finish you off. It will come down to who’s at their best on a given day.”

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