Reigning world champion Pramod Bhagat on Saturday won the gold medal in badminton men’s singles SL3 class with a thrilling win over Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell while Manoj Sarkar made it a double podium for India with a bronze at the Tokyo Paralympics on Saturday.
With badminton making its debut at the Paralympics this year, 33-year-old Bhagat, the current world No 1, became the first Indian to win a gold medal in the sport.
The top-seeded Indian, also an Asian champion, 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.
Sarkar, the world No 3, beat Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara to 22-20, 21-13 in the bronze medal match which took place simultaneously.
Bhagat, the favourite for the golf, had to mount a gritty fightback after trailing 4-12 in the second game. He did so in thrilling fashion.
He also remains in contention for a bronze medal in mixed doubles SL3-SU5 class.
Bhagat and his partner Palak Kohli will square off against Japanese pair of Daisuke Fujihara and Akiko Sugino in the bronze medal play off on Sunday. They had lost the semifinals 3-21 15-21 to Indonesian combination of Hary Susanto and Leani Ratri Oktila earlier in the day.
Bhagat, who had contracted polio when he was four years old, picked up the sports after watching his neighbours play. Initially, he competed against able-bodied players before getting into competitive para badminton in 2006.
He 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 in 2018 Asian Para Games.
The 31-year-old Sarkar, who whose right leg was affected after he contracted polio at age one, displayed great resilience during his 22-20 21-13 win over Fujihara.
In the semifinals, Sarkar couldn’’t get into any sort of rhythm against second seeded Great Britain’’s Daniel Bethell, going down 8-21 10-21 in the men’’s singles SL3 class.
But he recovered quickly from the defeat to produce a superb show to claim the bronze.
Earlier in the day, Suhas Yathiraj and Krishna Nagar also sailed into the men’s singles finals of SL4 class and SH6 class respectively.
In SL3 classification, athletes with lower limb impairment are allowed to compete.
With PTI Inputs