Top para shuttlers Pramod Bhagat (SL3) and Krishna Nagar (SH6) reached their respective semi-final rounds after wins on day two of badminton action at the Tokyo Paralympics.
The world No 1 and top seed in the SL3 category (played half court) sealed his progress to the semifinal with two wins out of two matches. He overcame world No 6 Oleksandr Chyrkov from Ukraine 21-12, 21-9 in 26 minutes. In a group of three, he made sure he will top the group and put himself one win away from a medal.
Bhagat was so dominant that the Ukrainian never won more than one point in a row during the match. The 33-year-old had defeated world No 3 Manoj Sarkar in an all-Indian battle on Thursday. On Friday, Manoj will look to join him from this group when he takes on Chyrkov tomorrow in the deciding group match.
Also impressive were Suhas Yathiraj and Tarun Dhillon who opened their men’s singles campaign with straight-game wins while youngster Palak Kohli took a step closer to knockouts with an impressive performance.
While Suhas and Tarun notched up easy victories over Germany’s Jan Niklas Pott and Thailand’s Siripong Teamarrom in their SL4 class matches respectively, second seed Krishna outwitted Malaysia’s Taresoh Didin in the SH6 class.
Kohli also overcame Turkey’s Zehra Baglar in her second women’s singles match of group A, after a tough defeat against the top seed Ayako Suzuki in her opener on Wednesday
The 38-year-old Suhas took just 19 minutes to see off Pott 21-9 21-3 in a lopsided group A clash, while Tarun, 27, too looked solid, beating Teamarrom 21-7 21-13 in a group B match that lasted 23 minutes.
Krishna then prevailed 22-20 21-10 over Didin in a 33-minute group B match. The 22-year-old Krishna will take on Brazil’s Vitor Goncalves Tavares on Friday and both the shuttles will start that match having qualified for the last four after the Malaysian lost both his matches on Thursday.
While Suhas will face Indonesia’s Hary Susanto and then France’s top seed Lucas Mazur on Friday, second seeded Tarun will be up against Korea’s Shin Kyung Hwan and Indonesia’s Fredy Setiawan.
Suhas, who has an impairment in one of his ankles, is an IAS officer who has been part of the fight against COVID-19 menace as the district magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh.
Tarun, who had sustained a severe knee injury while playing football at the age of eight which resulted in restricted knee movement, is a strong favourite for the podium but has had wretched luck with injuries. He is the current world no.2 and a former two-time world champion.
In women’s singles class SU5 class, Kohli beat Baglar 21-12 21-18 in 27 minutes. She had lost her opening match to Japan’s Ayako Suzuki. The Turkish world No 8 was left with very few answers to the aggressive approach from Kohli and the Indian ensured that she did the best to put herself through. If Suzuki defeats Baglar, the Indian will reach the quarterfinals.
Earlier in the day, the 19-year-old Kohli and her partner Parul Parmar, 48, went down 7-21 5-21 to second seeded Chinese pair of Cheng Hefang and Ma Huihui in a group B women’s doubles SL3-SU5 class match. The Indian pair will square off against French duo of Lenaig Morin and Faustine Noel on Friday.
Parmar, who competes in SL3 class, was no match for China’s Cheng Hefang – a top player in SL4 – losing 8-21 2-21 in 18 minutes in a women’s singles group D match at the Yoyogi national stadium. Parmar then pushed Germany’s Katrin Seibert later in the day to three games 21-23, 21-19, 15-21 in a battle between two veterans. Parmar is a 48-year-old world No 1 in SL3 while Seibert, 51, is world No 12 in the SL4 level. The Indian’s SL3 category is played half court so she was at an obvious disadvantage in the SL4 group but displayed great heart in both her defeats.
Suhas, who had qualified after the game’s governing body BWF granted bipartite quotas to India, said he is looking forward to his match against top seed and title favourite Mazur on Friday.
“We are both looking forward to that. We have gone head-to-head on the circuit running up to the Paralympics and I have lost some and won some against him. It will be a good challenge,” he said.
“Because of his height, his strokes come from a certain depth which generally you are not used to, but I have trained specifically for that. I am sure he will also specifically train for me.”
Suhas said he has specifically trained for his match against Mazur.
“My coach used to stand on a chair. I had to be mobile. My coach first used to give the shuttle to one position, and then another. A real match is different, but you do the best that you can,” he said.
With PTI inputs
Para badminton classification:
- WH1 is for players who require a wheelchair to play badminton and usually have an impairment in both their legs and trunk. Players are required to play in a wheelchair in this class. (Half court)
- WH2 is for players who could have an impairment in one or both legs and minimal or no impairment of the trunk. (Half court)
- SL3 players must play standing. The player could have impairment in one or both legs and poor walking/running balance. (Half court)
- SL4 is a second standing class where the player has a lesser impairment compared to Sport Class SL3. The player could have an impairment in one or both legs and a minimal impairment in walking/running balance.
- SU5 is for players with an impairment of the upper limb. The impairment could be on the playing or non-playing hand.
- SH6 is for players who have a short stature.
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