After a thrilling contest of badminton at the recently concluded BWF World Para-Badminton Championships 2019, the Indian para-badminton contingent managed to win a total of 12 medals.
The Indian team made the country proud with a stellar performance at Basel in Switzerland. Hosted for the first time alongside the abled-body event, India was the second-biggest recipient of Gold medals after China.
Representing the Indian contingent, Manasi Joshi and Pramod Bhagat managed to steal the limelight. The latter, who recently won an Arjuna Award, utilised a better game plan to defeat England’s Daniel Bethell to clinch his third title in the men single’s SL3 (Standing/lower limb impairment/minor) category.
Bhagat ended his campaign with two Gold medals as he also managed to win the men’s doubles SL3-4 title along with his partner Manoj Sarkar.
Bhagat, who has been suffering from Polio since the age of four, won his sixth singles Gold medal this year as he extended his strong hold in the SL3 category. In the process, Bhagat also managed to better his winning record against Bethell.
Throughout the match, there was a sense of calm on Bhagat’s face even after he lost the first game to Bethell. He took his time to find his rhythm after which he started playing aggressive shots and applied pressure on his opponent. A victory for Bhagat meant that he was one step closer to his dream; representing his country at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
On the other hand, an ecstatic Manasi Joshi clinched her maiden Gold medal in the BWF Championship in the women’s singles SL3 category final after defeating world champion and compatriot, Parul Parmar in straight sets (21-12, 21-7).
After four unsuccessful attempts against Parmar, Manasi was finally able to triumph against her long-term rival. She isn’t the usual prototype of a world champion. For Manasi or “the rebel with a cause”, as some would call her, defying odds is not something out of the ordinary. Such inspiring stories are bound to motivate people into defying odds, finding strength in the toughest of times and achieve greatness.
In a bid to honour this amazing feat, the team received a massive cash price of INR 1.82 crore from the Indian Government. In addition to this, the sports minister also declared that the medal winners will receive their cash prizes a day after returning from their respective events and will not have to wait for a once-a-year ceremony, as was the law earlier.
The Indian para-badminton players have won over 250 medals at national and international platforms since 2014. Since the inclusion of Para-Badminton in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, there has been a significant improvement in the performances of these athletes. However, to book a berth for the 2020 Paralympics, they will have to be consistent and keep improving their personal best.
Para-sport is on the rise in the country. The athletes through their achievements have ensured that para-sport is not a topic that the country discusses only once in four years. Along with serving us with great performances, these athletes also carry stories of grit and determination.Published 02 Oct 2019, 09:24 IST