The old adage "well begun is half done" suits Maisnam Meiraba to a T. The teenaged sensation created history by winning the Latvia International 2021 in Jelgava.
In a rare feat, Meiraba launched his senior international campaign on a rousing note by clinching the title after going through a tough qualification process.
The former world No. 2 in the Under-19 boys singles achieved several memorable wins in the junior section. However, winning the title at Latvia in his very first attempt is his most impressive achievement yet.
Jubilant about Meiraba’s maiden triumph, his coach Vimal Kumar said:
“Meiraba has not played in any senior category so far and was only concentrating on junior events. For the last year and a half there have been no tournaments and that was a huge setback for him. It’s important now that he plays more tournaments and the way the pandemic is going it will be possible to play tournaments only in Europe.”
The Manipur native was lucky to get an entry into the tournament. He was way down on the reserve list and was not supposed to make it to the qualifying rounds.
Meiraba was 20th on the reserve list in Latvia but withdrawals allowed him to play
Thanks to many withdrawals at the last moment, Meiraba got a chance to play in Latvia. Many players, including some Indian shuttles, were unable to obtain visas due to tough travel norms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Commenting on the turn of events, Kumar said:
“Meiraba was not on the original list of the players for the qualification process. In fact, he was 20th on the reserve list in Latvia. Thanks to many withdrawals, he could sneak in. He needed these points to make a mark on the world stage.”
Qualifier Meiraba quelled a spirited challenge from France’s Alex Lanier in the final to grab the title. The 18-year-old beat Lanier 21-15, 12-21, 22-20 in a marathon match which lasted for 75 minutes. 16-year-old Lanier is world No. 206 and regarded as one of the most promising shuttlers on the European circuit.
Kumar lauded Meiraba for maintaining his composure in the face of many hurdles. Touching on some of the issues, he said:
“Meiraba’s baggage got lost and arrived on time. In spite of all that I am happy he qualified and then won the tournament as well. I am sure these wins will motivate him and will do a lot of good for his confidence. The win is more creditable because he managed everything on his own in Latvia. We need to provide him with more opportunities to play in Europe in the coming months.”
Meiraba has been training at the Bengaluru-based Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy since his sub-junior days. As head coach of the academy, Kumar has closely monitored the progress of his ward and groomed him properly over the years.
Meiraba will now focus on his next tournament, the Ukraine International 2021 from September 7. Following the Latvian tournament, he returned to Bengaluru and trained for a few days before boarding a flight to Ukraine on Saturday.