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SportBadmintonParalympics: Pramod Bhagat wins first gold for India in badminton

Paralympics: Pramod Bhagat wins first gold for India in badminton

Published: 4th Sep 2021 4:52 pm

Tokyo: Reigning world champion Pramod Bhagat claimed a historic gold medal in the men’s singles SL3 class while Manoj Sarkar bagged a bronze as Indian badminton players dished out an impressive performance to continue country’s medal rush at the Tokyo Paralympics, here on Saturday.

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World number one Bhagat, who is also an Asian champion, humbled Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell in the summit clash while Sarkar defeated Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara in the third place play-off. In SL3 classification, athletes with lower limb impairment compete.

With badminton making its debut at the Paralympics this year, Bhagat, became the first Indian to win a gold medal in the sport. The top seed showed great mental fortitude as he prevailed 21-14 21-17 over second seeded Bethell in a thrilling final that lasted 45 minutes at the Yoyogi National Stadium. “This is very special to me, it’s my dream come true.

Bethell really pushed me but I just kept my calm and played to my strengths,” said Bhagat after wining India’s fourth gold medal in the ongoing Tokyo Games.

“I would like to dedicate this to my parents and to everyone who has supported me throughout. I’m glad I could make India proud.” Bhagat said he had a strategy in place for his rival. “I played the same opponent in Japan two years ago and I lost. That was a learning opportunity for me. Today it was the same stadium and the same environment, and I devised a strategy to win. I was very determined.”

The 33-year-old from Bhubaneswar also remains in contention for a bronze medal in mixed doubles SL3-SU5 class.

Bhagat and his partner Palak Kohli will meet Japanese pair of Daisuke Fujihara and Akiko Sugino in the bronze medal play off on Sunday. The 31-year-old Sarkar, whose right leg was affected after he contracted polio at age one, displayed great resilience during his 22-20 21-13 win over Fujihara.

More medals are in store for India as Suhas Yathiraj and Krishna Nagar also sailed into the men’s singles finals of SL4 class and SH6 class respectively. Tarun Dhillon too stayed in contention for a bronze after losing his semifinals earlier in the day. In SL4 class, Suhas outwitted Indonesia’s Fredy Setiawan 21-9 21-15 in the first semifinal. The 38-year-old, who has animpairment in one of his ankles, will face top seed Lucas Mazur of France in the final on Sunday.

A computer engineer, Suhas went on to become an IAS officer and has been posted as a district magistrate of Noida since 2020, a role that saw him at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

Krishna, seeded second, outplayed Great Britain’s Krysten Coombs 21-10 21-11 in the SH6 class semifinals. He will cross swords with Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai in the final on Sunday. Krishna, who has a short stature, started playing the sport seriously only four years back.

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