Shuttlers Pramod Bhagat, Manoj Sarkar double the joy in Paralympics

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Pramod Bhagat (left) and Manoj Sarkar pose with their medals in Men's Badminton Individual SL3 classification at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Pramod Bhagat (left) and Manoj Sarkar pose with their medals in Men's Badminton Individual SL3 classification at the Tokyo Paralympics.

What a day it was for India at the Paralympics! Pramod Bhagat and Manoj Sarkar won gold and bronze respectively in Men’s Badminton Individual SL3 classification.

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Pramod made India proud after he won gold in Tokyo giving India their first medal in Badminton at the Paralympics. He triumphed over Daniell Bethell of Great Britain 21-14, 21-17.

 

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Earlier in the day in SL3 classification, Pramod engaged in long rallies against Daisuke Fujihara (21-11, 21-16) in the semi-final.

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Fujihara could not get past any of the Indians he faced. In the bronze medal match, he was defeated by Manoj. The scoreboard read 22-20, 21-13. With Manoj’s win, India achieved the rare feat of having two medals in the same event twice on Saturday. Earlier, Manish Narwal and Singhraj Adana won gold and silver respectively in Men’s Shooting 50m Pistol event.

Pramod is the top seeded para badminton Indian player, while also being the current world and Asian champion. He already has won 45 international medals. The list includes 4 World Championship gold and 2 medals (gold and bronze) at the 2018 Asian Para Games.

In the final, Pramod was off to a slow start but soon got into his stride. He took a one-game lead in just 21 minutes after he raced to a 15-9 lead and overcame a brief period of resistance from Bethell. But he did not lose his cool and showed incredible defensive skills to deny Bethell the point. In the second game, Bethell blazed to a 12-6 lead. But Pramod fought back to draw level at 15-15 and won the 2nd game in 24 minutes to secure the pole position.

Pramod’s dominance was evident all through the week as he won all four of his matches. He dropped only one game against compatriot Manoj in his opening match. This is the maiden edition of the Games where badminton has been introduced. Pramod has a chance to add to his medal tally when he goes up in the Mixed Doubles SL3-SU5 event  with Palak Kohli in the bronze medal fixture against Japan’s Fujihara and Akiko Sugino.

Pramod, hailing from the small town of Attabira in Odisha, has always been a dreamer. As a child, he was an avid cricket lover and opened the innings as a batsman in local tournaments. However, in his teens, he developed a liking for badminton.

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It was then that he was introduced to his first coach, SP Das. In the beginning, he played in the able category. Gradually, he switched to the para badminton and made up his mind to pursue sport as a career in spite of hindrance from his parents.

“My family had told me to give up the sport a few times, because they felt I was simply wasting my time. From 2005-2013 it was a very rough phase, since the sport in itself was not well known. However, I firmly believed that patience would definitely lead to success,” Pramod had said in an interview to Sportsavour.

On the other hand, 31-year-old Manoj fell prey to polio when he was just 13 months old, but took the impairment in his stride. “Though I was a child with disability, my family never let me feel it. They treated me as a normal child and encouraged me in studies and sports,” said Manoj.

He triumphed over Fujihara in straight games, in a 47-minute encounter. The first game turned out to be a tense affair before Manoj picked up the first game 22-20. Manoj, who is presently World No. 3 in his category, took the second game with ease defeating the Japanese 21-13. The game started off with a 2-2 tie before Manoj took a 3-point lead to make the score 5-2. At the interval, he had a five-point lead of 11-6. He eventually closed out the game at 21-13 to win the tie.

SportSavour

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