Lakshya Sen’s rise inspires fellow Prakash Padukone academy trainee Meiraba.

Maisnam Meiraba Luwang was dejected when the World Junior Badminton Championships was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic. As the world No. 2 junior, Meiraba was hoping to make it count, having learnt his lesson after an early loss in the previous edition. The youngster quickly got over the disappointment and is making steady progress in the senior international circuit.

On Sunday, Meiraba won the Iran Fajir International Challenge, a Grade 3 level event, adding to his two Future Series titles in Bulgaria and Latvia last year when he graduated to the international circuit. In the final in Iran, Meiraba rallied to defeat Ukraine’s Danylo Bosniuk in an hour-long match.

“It was a good tournament for me. I beat some higher-ranked players. Everybody was tough in their own way, with different kinds of play. I had to adapt,” said Meiraba.

“The final was also tough. He won the first set and I had to change my game. I was able to beat him in the second, and in the third I was leading 20-15 and from there he came to 19. I was able to close it out.”

A trainee of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru, 19-year-old Meiraba is excited as his teammate Lakshya Sen is taking rapid strides in world badminton. A year younger to Sen, both have come up together at the academy. Meiraba is inspired to see Sen do so well, winning bronze at the world championships and then the India Open title. Both currently train under the academy’s new foreign coach—Yong Sung Yoo. The two-time Olympic medallist from South Korea has been hired to groom young talent for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It was so good to see Lakshya beat world champion Loh Kean Yew at the India Open. It’s so inspiring. We all want to perform at that level. I have to work on my attacking shots and other aspects of my game,” says Meiraba, who picked up the game from his father and coach Maisnam Romesh in Imphal.

“The last two years were difficult with start-stop training because of Covid. When there was no off-court training, sometimes we would go for running. Last year I played six tournaments, but this season I want to compete in more events. I have worked on my physical strength, and it helped me in Iran where I played six matches. I want to improve my ranking and get entries into top-tier tournaments.”

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