Paralympics 2021: Pramod Bhagat creates history, wins first-ever badminton gold medal for India

Pramod Bhagat wins historic gold for India. (©Twitter)
Pramod Bhagat wins historic gold for India. (©Twitter)

India’s Pramod Bhagat won a historic gold in the men’s singles SL3 event at the Tokyo Paralympics on Saturday. He defeated Great Britain’s Daniell Bethell 21-14, 21-17. This is India’s first medal in badminton at the Paralympics.

Bhagat showed great mental fortitude as he made a comeback from an 8-point deficit to wrap things up in a 45-minute thriller at the Yoyogi National Stadium.

The Indian shuttler was dominant throughout the competition, winning four of his five games. He lost just one game against compatriot Manoj Sarkar in the first match of his campaign.

Pramod Bhagat’s medal is India’s fourth gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics after Avani Lekhara in the women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1 event, Sumit Antil in the men’s javelin throw F64 category and Manish Narwal in the men’s mixed 50m pistol SH1.

The 33-year-old Odisha-born shuttler is also in contention for a bronze medal in the mixed-doubles SL3-SU5 class with Palak Kohli.

Pramod Bhagat and Palak Kohli will lock horns with Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara and Akiko Sugino on Sunday. The Indian pair lost the semi-finals 3-21, 15-21 to the Indonesian combination of Leani Ratri Oktila and Hary Susanto

How did Pramod Bhagat began his badminton journey?

The Indian badminton player, who contracted polio when he was just four years of age, picked up the sport after watching his neighbors play. He initially competed against able-bodied players before switching to competitive para-badminton in 2006.

Bhagat eventually emerged as one of the best para shuttlers in the country with 45 international medals under his belt, including four world championship gold medals and a gold and a bronze at the 2018 Asian Para Games.

Bhagat had also started his career as a badminton coach but took a break in 2019 to focus on qualifying for the Tokyo Paralympics. In 2019, he was bestowed with the Arjuna Award and Biju Patnaik Award for Excellence in Sports in India.

Earlier in the day, Suhas Yathiraj and Krishna Nagar also sailed into the men’s singles finals of the SL4 class and SH6 class respectively.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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