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Thailand Open: Meiraba Maisnam is too serious and a perfectionist; coach Vimal Kumar wants him to chill and play freely

Vimal Kumar once had a peculiar conversation about God with young shuttler Meiraba Luwang Maisnam, made trickier by God’s inputs on the matter not being on record.Vimal had known Meiraba since the Manipuri boy arrived at Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy at age 11. The precocious pre-teen was known as a happy, boisterous child who loved to make everyone around him laugh, with his mimicry and assorted antics. He also played strokes freely and was tipped for greater things, before the Covid pandemic struck. Meiraba emerged from it deeply withdrawn. “He suddenly became very religious and would disappear to pray all the time,” Vimal recalls. Respectful towards his faith, Vimal who understood the boy and badminton better than his silent beliefs, would tell him, “You don’t need to go all qui...